The past two days have been hectic. Moves are generally stressful events; there is a sense of displacement, maybe some disorientation. And then there is the body’s involvement to consider. Because I’m on a tight budget, I have to supply most of the labor, so I’m physically tired. But moving excites me because I adore possibility and seeing the world with a fresh perspective. My new space is smaller, and its windows provide a view of the treetops and the hills. I feel as if I’m living in a treehouse,which was a childhood fantasy. And I like nesting; a home is something one creates, and one should feel he or she belongs in the space. Home is a reflection of one’s identity. And too, I believe in the energies of spaces, so even inanimate objects belong to specific locations. As of tonight, I have essentials in place except for my books, which have yet to cross the threshold.
Moving in small bits over a period of a week gives me time to sort, to leave what is unecessary behind. I like feeling new. I like my everyday living simplified because it clears the space I need to the indulge my passions: Writing, reading, playing musical instruments, and riding my horse. So, with each object I bring into my new space, I ask myself, “How important is this to you? How much of my time do I really want to devote to maintaining material things?” When my grandfather reached his late seventies, he began to pare down his material possessions. I asked him why, for instance, he gave away his VCR, his Oldsmobile, his University of Tennessee season football tickets. He told me he was only going to keep possessions such as his tools and his hand-built trailer that allowed him to express his creativity. He told me it made him feel free. He was tired of worrying and fretting over so much of what defines the middle class, and he wanted time to garden, walk, and think. We both loved nothing more than weeding and planting together, most of the time not talking at all. This is when I felt closest to my grandfather. We occupied a space together sharing a passion while maintaining our own boundaries.
Recently, my mother died, and I anticipated sorting her belongings. Like her mother, my mother kept ticket stubs from movies and plays, matchbook covers from restaurants and hotels, and programs from sporting events and church services. When I began the process, I quickly found that not only would I have to make decisions about my mother’s things, but my grandmother’s, grandfather’s, and great grandparents’ possessions, too. My mother had stored generations worth of garments, letters, and school year books. Essentially, I was responsible for the remainders of five lives.
Making choices about these personal belongings was difficult: Picture after picture of people I didn’t know, report cards, and newspaper clippings. What to keep and why became my preoccupation. But I knew I needed my own space, a space not dominated by others’ lives.