to be one with

Oh Lordy am I eager to get moved in. To be one with my stuff again, and to have my stuff unpacked and settled in. It’s going to be a while, since I have to make that trip back to Texas, and then the long drive back, but I really cannot wait.

I started packing in Austin a long time ago — the stuff that could easily be packed, spare closets, books, stuff off the walls, various storage — so I’ve been living amid boxes and clutter for weeks. And in NYC, bless his heart, my husband doesn’t even seem to notice clutter. Every flat surface gets covered with STUFF, and I don’t like that. It makes me feel suffocated and panicky. And now, in preparation for heading upstate to the house today, he has been gathering all sorts of stuff to take up there (“Honey, do you have coconut milk? Honey, do you have an extremely large bowl? Honey, let’s go to Chinatown to get a gigantic wok for the gigantic burner! Honey, maybe I should bring fish sauce/olive oil/shrimp paste/medicines/bulk spices/glass canisters/a meditation pillow/etc etc etc”) and it’s all sitting on the countertops and table and coffee table and floor. All this individual stuff. And there’s my suitcase and toiletry bag and backpack and purse, and he wants to bring the kaffir lime tree and some cuttings of Thai basil, and how will it all fit into his extremely messy car, anyway?

I just kind of feel like screaming. I want peace and order. Harmony and neatness. Absence of clutter. A place for everything, and everything in its place. I want jobs finished, not done to the 95% mark and then abandoned. I want my cozy bed, I miss my wonderful couch, I want my neat kitchen.

And it’s just going to be a while. It is. I have to be patient, and at a time I feel like my patience is on the v-e-r-y thin side. He and I will be in the new house together over the weekend, and he’ll come back into the city Tuesday afternoon…….and then I will be all alone in the house for three glorious days. Three days of quiet. Three days to do some settling-in. I won’t have a car, so I will be completely house-bound, but at this moment that sounds better than anything else could ever sound. Solitude. In my own house, to put things where I want to put them. To make those decisions because they make sense to me.

Then he’ll come back Friday evening, and we’ll spend the next weekend doing more unpacking — then he’ll take me to the airport on Tuesday July 11. So really, the three glorious days next week will be my shot. I can’t wait.

here is the basement with THEIR stuff in it — all that is gone and now it’s stacked with boxes and furniture

We leave today after he sees his final patient, so 1:15pm. It’s a holiday weekend so we imagine the drive upstate might be crazy. Everything is in the basement, so we’ll need to either move the mattresses upstairs or just unpack the inflatable mattress and get the bedding and shower curtain and towels, which I (very smartly, I might add) packed in a giant black trash bag so they would be easily spotted and grabbed, like a kit. A “here you go, your first night” kit. And my Chemex coffee pot and filters are in another bag ready to go, along with coffee and a bean grinder.

[minus the US flag!!] Saturday morning, maybe we will sit on the front porch with our coffee — or maybe the back deck! Options!
For more than 4.5 years I’ve lived betwixt and between, and like a divorced kid whatever I needed was at the other house. Half of the month I’d have whatever I could carry, and stuff I wanted was always back in Austin. I just can’t wait to be settled. To be in the position where “uprooted” means I’ve driven into the city for a few days, that’s all — and I’ll be driving, so I can take whatever I want in my car and not have to worry about airline restrictions.

Wah wah wah. Poor me. I’m tired, y’all. Just like your immune system keeps working while you’re under stress and then crashes when the stress ends, and just like I had all the energy and focus I needed for the long trip from Austin to NYC and then crashed when I got here, I think my stamina for the betwixt-and-between is crashing now that it’s almost over.

It’s almost over. It’s almost over. Tonight I will sleep in my own home. My name is on the deed, I can’t be asked to leave. I don’t have a landlord who tells me what I can and can’t do. It’s my home. Tonight. Hallelujah.

the George Carlin variety of stuff

If you didn’t see this back in the day, please start by watching this HILARIOUS but also making-you-think video of George Carlin talking about stuff:

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When I was growing up we moved every little bit, and there was an occasional move where we just left everything and started over. When my kids were growing up, we moved a good bit and I always took that opportunity — while they were at school and I was packing the house — to pitch the various broken toys, Happy Meal plastic crap, and things they’d severely outgrown. I did that with my own things too, so we never lived with too much stuff. I don’t know how people do it who don’t move! I gather they tend to accumulate stuff.

When I moved to Austin two years ago I only had my clothes and what was left of my library. That was it. So I had to buy every single thing a person needs, and that was a lot. Finally, a few months later, I had everything I needed . . . and then I bought one extra thing and didn’t have room, had to move a chair into my garage. THAT was strange! From nothing to too much, in a few months.

stuffIn the last two years I’ve added small things here, wedged extras in alongside existing things, bought things to wear, books, and I realized last week that it was starting to feel like my place was cluttered. It isn’t really, not too badly, but it feels that way to me. So yesterday I started to cull, and I started in my chest of drawers. (When I was a kid I thought it was chester drawers, and I figured the piece of furniture was named after some guy Chester.) ANYWAY. The underwear/socks/bra drawer! My lord, I’d become anxious to open it, and had to cram things down to get it closed. I have a washing machine and a dryer of my very own that I can use 24/7….how many pairs of socks and underwear do I need! Undies variables: silky and cotton, dark and light. That’s really it. Three each, twelve pair. Period. More than enough. Socks variables: boots, dress, footies. Three each, nine pair. More than enough. Bras: wow that old sports bra’s gotta go, and that one, and the rest can be organized. Now my drawer opens easily and I have a super abundance and I can breathe.

I did that in all my drawers, and in my closet — and of course the closet is trickier, if you’re a person like me who ranges across sizes. Right now I wear an 8 but I need to be prepared to find myself back in the 12s, at least for a while. I’ve done the yo-yo too many times to think this is it, finally. I hope it is, and I have stuck here longer than I usually do with weight loss, and once I’ve stayed at this steady weight for a number of months I’m going to get rid of the bigger clothes. Still, there were shirts I haven’t worn for years, a couple of dresses that I scarcely remember, etc. And shoes — culled those too. I feel so much lighter, getting rid of all that stuff, and can’t wait to attack the next spot.

Some people feel most comfortable — emotionally, aesthetically — with lots and lots and lots of stuff, and good on ’em. My ancient old aunts Bea and Hazel lived together after Bea killed her husband and Hazel’s husband went to the store for smokes and never came back, and they were both fond of stuff. Their bathrooms were jammed to the ceiling with paper towels and toilet paper and other stuff, their garage was packed, the closets were all stocked up. It didn’t feel like hording as much as it felt like being sure they weren’t going to run out of staples. Most objects were covered in some way — crocheted dolls covering the waiting rolls of toilet paper, for example — and they were happy as clams.

I realized this even applies to incoming information. I’ve gotten rid of cable (well, I am forced to keep basic cable or else my internet price goes up, how stupid), and yesterday I also culled my Facebook feed, unfollowing sites I never ever follow through. It’s getting more manageable, and since I just jump in once in a while for a minute to check on everyone, I’m less likely to miss what matters. I’m doing the same with email, unsubscribing and junking things.

At first all this getting-rid-of felt FANTASTIC and then shortly afterwards, there’s a feeling of silence and emptiness. And then I remembered: AH….silence! How beautiful, just what I wanted, so lovely. I can reach out and invite what makes me happy. OH….emptiness, I can breathe, enjoy what I have, bring in what makes me happy.

Sayonara, stuff.