Monday, June 20, 2016

Pack Out

In this small house
Made of brick and stone
Built on laughter
And all our dreams and hopes
In this small house
Together we have grown
Made a family
Made us all a home
   - Michelle Featherstone

We've spent a lot of hours moving from place to place, B and I.  By my calculations, this is our fourteenth move together.  That's a lot of bubble wrap.

You'd think I'd be good at it by now.  But nothing really prepares you for it, for taking your house apart, piece by piece.  Taking pictures off the walls.  Upending junk drawers.  Ruthlessly culling the end-of-year art projects.  Giving away too-small sweaters and shoes. Going through every item you own, one at a time, trying to decide: is this worth keeping?  What does it mean to me?

Every move I try to convince B to toss this one bowl that I hate. But for him, it has a history.  So it moves with us every time.  Every move I try to think of something creative to do with the multiple baggies full of mystery coins that we drag from post to post.  Each time I toss them back in the junk basket, that basket full of things I can't quite bring myself to throw away. All those Christmas cards that I keep in my drawer?  Right before we move, I look through them all and think about the people who sent them.  Then I throw them all in the garbage. I can't quite decide if that's a morbid habit or a sweet tradition.

I've gotten pretty good at the logistics of moving.  Stack all of your artwork together against one wall - when the movers pack it all together, it's easier to unpack and sort at your next post.  Same with your knick knacks: if you gather them from all around the house and put them all in one place for the movers, you're more likely to find them intact at the other end.  Bag and label all of the bedding by family member so you aren't sorting through 47 fitted sheets when you unpack.  Give the kids freezer bags to sort and store their stuff for moving.  That sort of thing, I can do.

But watching all of my possessions disappear under piles of cardboard and bubble?  That I never get used to.  Looking around the empty house is hard too.  It always seems dusty and tired, with nail holes and dirt marks on the walls where pictures once hung, gum wrappers and lego bits on the closet floors.

Anyway.  We're halfway through this pack out.  By tomorrow night the house will be ours-not-ours.

I wrote this article about pack out, years ago, when we lived in Beijing.  It still rings true for me.  Ghosts. Everywhere ghosts.


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Humaun Kabir said... [Reply]

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