Thoughts on moving and possessions

I’m in the middle of yet another life-altering move. I’ve had many of these in my lifetime. So far I’ve lived in five states (FL, NY, CA, PA, TX), with some repeats (NY, PA), and two countries (US and DEU, though I don’t remember the latter, which was the first). I’ve had MANY more small moves, within a 20-mile radius or a college move, so many so that it’s over 25 and not really worth counting up. Despite all the moves, I still own too much stuff. 

This afternoon I sorted through much of my academic materials. I’ve weeded back a lot, yet have at least three square liquor boxes of academic articles and binders from classes I’ve taken. I’ve only kept that which is relevant (or somewhat) to my dissertation topic, career, or future research, all else got recycled. I’m hoping that in my next home, I will keep on top of all this paper clutter. I can definitely understand how paper beats rock… it gets buried and then you don’t see rock anymore. Being as stubborn as a rock and burdened by paper, I get this.

I’m in the process now to cut back on my belongings. Though I don’t yet have children, I would like to someday, so several of my childhood items have been with me from move to move. I had many of them stored at two of my friends’ house for the past five years or so. Amongst the belongings are Rainbow Bright,  Strawberry Shortcake and some friends (not all that are in this photo, just two others), a host of various Barbies (including Army, Air Force, and Navy), and too many other larger stuffed toys. I might part with some of these things, post move, just in case they are actually worth anything, but much of it has sentimental value and I can’t quite part with it. They will sit in a bin for who knows how many years, yet I can’t get rid of them just yet.

I have found that when it comes to a lot of my possessions, it isn’t the item itself that I’m attached to, it’s the people and memories associated with said items. My dolls and such remind me of Franca and Jaime, who I used to play with when in elementary school. The same goes for a lot of nic-naks I own. It isn’t the item itself, it’s the person who gifted it to me. I feel guilty for casting away some of these things, or even selling or giving them to others. It’s like I somehow think that doing so devalues the relationship with that person. It’s something I’m going to have to get over. I’ve made it clear to my family and close friends that I have a ban on nic-naks. I really don’t like “dustables,” yet can’t part with many of those I have because my grandmother, parents, or brother and his family gifted them to me.

It really isn’t the physical labor of moving that is taxing, it is the emotional labor. The remembering, the weighing, the deciding of what to do with all that I own. So far there are fewer boxes to move, fewer clothes in my closet to pack, and fewer papers to sort. Bit by bit.

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2 Responses to Thoughts on moving and possessions

  1. Ashlie says:

    This is what I have been trying to do with each move and as you have said it is never easy. When my grandmother recently passed, I was given many items of hers that are from her childhood and younger years (because the family knows how much I am into antiques). I really want to keep things from her past, especially now that she is gone, but honestly, do I want to take it with us to Wisconsin?

    • Cris says:

      I have found that it gets easier with time to part with some of the items. I did allow myself to keep anything my grandmother ever wrote me – her handwriting is a deeper connection that I can’t part with (or don’t want to, rather). I have been able to let go of other items that she gave me and it is definitely easier to let it go when I can give it to another family member who also loved her dearly.

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