On being ... discomboxulated
So, I moved earlier this week. I purposely scheduled the move so that I’d have plenty of time to unpack before it was time to write On being… Well, as they say, the best laid plans. So, here it is 4 p.m. on the 30th and I just finished talking with a friend who asked how On being was going and I confessed that I hadn’t started it and that I had decided to skip this issue because I’m feeling too stressed out. But, after I hung up, I realized that writing On being is probably just what I need to feel a bit more combobulated, if you get what I mean.
I knew moving would be stressful, but I thought the hard part was making the decision to take on the financial responsibility of a mortgage. But, when I decided to go for it, I thought the most stressful part was behind me. I thought the actual physical move was just a function of planning and execution. Little did I know…
My current frustration could easily be attributed to the glitches over which I have no control, like the fact that the new phone line was connected for one day and then disconnected, for no reason that I know. Or the fact that they didn’t come out to set up my wireless network as scheduled yesterday. So, as I write this I’m not even sure how I’ll send it, but I won’t worry about that till I’m done. (You have to love this wonderful digital era. A simple move across town and for three days I’m without phone, without Internet, and with no television. Thank heaven for radio that’s transmitted the old fashioned way!)
I was even prepared for a bit of chaos, which I used to define as pretty much any mess around me, but which I have now expanded to include things like living with cupboards with no doors (because I took them off to adjust the shelves but that I can’t seem to re-hang until I can round up an extra pair of hands to help).
What I was not prepared for were the number of decisions I’d have to make. Everything from paint colours and light fixtures, to what style of cheques to have printed. On top of all those things, given that I wasn’t having the movers pack my stuff, I decided the move was an opportunity to cull through everything with an eye toward “setting things free”, as one of my sisters refers to it. I was proud of all the items I decided to donate (things that are perfectly good but that I don’t use enough to justify keeping) and all the things I tossed (the truly unusable stuff).
Then came decisions about how to pack up all my things. Everything from deciding what size boxes to use for different things, to deciding what to box together -- all with a view toward making the unpacking logical and effortless. And given that I have the “luxury” of two storage spaces with this condo, as I was planning and packing I was silently deciding what would go in which storage locker. (Note the lower case “l” in luxury – buying two storage spaces was a concession the initial owner made, no doubt, because of the cozy (read: small) size of the living space itself).
Thanks to all those pre-moving day decisions, I was confident that unpacking would be a breeze, not to mention decision-free. On moving day I was expecting to be able to blithely instruct the movers about what would go where and that was that. But as they moved all the furniture I realized the rugs (rug remnants, really) were pretty cruddy and so yet another decision: whether to take them or ditch them. I decided to ditch them – after all, now that I own something, I’m trying to move away from the poor student (or, at my age, suffering artist) look.
After the movers left and I started unpacking, I realized that with every item I had to decide where to put it. Some things were straightforward -- files would be put back in the filing cabinets they came out of, but all the linens and dishes and glassware and food and cleaning supplies and, and, and… Where should I put them all?
I know it sounds simple, but part of the problem is that awhile back I realized that my life is very much governed by the law of physics that says that things at rest tend to stay at rest. That’s definitely been the case with most of my stuff over the years. Rarely did I move or change things around. Given this, every decision of where to put things seems all the more burdensome.
On top of all that, I’ve always had this fantasy that when I finally own something it will look clean and clutter-free, like the places in those home and garden magazines. But that’s not easy, given my space limitations. So, as I’ve been unpacking I’m once again been looking at each item and deciding whether to keep it, donate it, or toss it – decisions I thought I made a mere month ago as I was packing. (I must say, my sense of what I need and what I don’t seems much keener here, which is a good thing, I think.)
I know that this feeling of discomboxulation is temporary. At some point all the things will have ended up someplace and all the boxes will be empty or hidden away in storage. And I’ll move on to face other – likely more consequential – decisions. But until then, don’t ask me to decide anything other than whether I’d prefer a glass of something red or something white!
© 2007 Ingrid Sapona