Monday, January 09, 2006

Moving Out, Moving In, Moving On

Moving Out, Moving In, Moving On

-Moving Out-

Moving out of a house is easier than moving into one, or so it seems. Just reverse the process. Instead of unpacking boxes, pack them. Wad it all up and cram it into generically labeled boxes like LR, DR, BR, etc. and figure that I will actually remember what items are in which box. The goal is to get it all boxed so the movers, who get paid by the hour, will efficiently and cheaply transfer my belongings to their new destination.

As the movers unloaded the boxes into the new house reality set in. Boxes started getting stacked on top of each other in the pre-designated rooms. As the rooms filled up to the point I couldn’t get into them I decided that it would be better to just pile most of them in the big empty garage and sort it out later.

Before the move I had good intentions of having a mammoth moving sale to whittle down all the years of accumulated stuff. Since much of it is the dander and memories of my path through life and not things that someone else would actually want to buy, I just put it off dealing with it until the 11th hour. Panic set in and I figured, what the hell, I’ll just move it and hold a moving in sale later.

When I moved out (like most people) I had more stuff than when I moved in. When I moved to Tallahassee in 1976 all I had was the bicycle I rode in on and a pack of clothes strapped to it. Eight years later when I left Tallahassee for Birmingham it took an 18’ U-haul truck to get my stuff moved. When I moved from my first house in Birmingham to my new house 13 years later it took two 24’ moving trucks to get all the major stuff transferred plus 3 loads of miscellaneous dross in my Tahoe. As I wandered around the mainly empty house on my second day of grabbing the things I hadn’t put in boxes for the movers I thought, “hey, I can get this crap into my Tahoe with room to spare".

-Moving In-

Well, this is a photo of my last load. As you can see there was only enough room for me to squeeze into the drivers seat, and maybe room for just a wafer thin mint. (see photo)

Bring me a bucket! I am going to throw up from all the crumbs of “I might need that someday” fodder I have filled my house’s gut with over the years.

My story is not unique. It is repeated by countless other material possession addicts everyday. I promised myself that I would stop. My new house is already full of boxes of things from my past life that lay forgotten and useless until I had to cart it all to my new house and will probably stay forgotten and useless unless I stick my finger down my throat and purge them.

As I pondered how quickly my new house’s voluminous 2 car garage filled up with my old life’s cling-ons, I drove by a shopping center and the lure of the buy something stimulant came rushing in and I told myself that I would just look around. After all, I have a new house and a new house needs new stuff. No harm looking around for something I might need. The storefronts lured me with their windows displaying the new life and new times I could have if I just owned a new (fill in the blank). I thought back to all the trouble I got myself into and how hard it was to withdraw from the last 13 years of buying binges I went on. But this time it is different. This time I really needed (fill in the blank). I could handle it.

No, I told myself, even as I was drawn closer to the door. I don’t have to have (fill in the blank). I already have 2 of them at home, someplace. But, I don’t have a green one. Besides, the green one in the window is new and my blue one didn’t really go with the yellow one I already had.

Before I knew it I am clutching the green one in my hand. Reaching into my pocket for my credit card, the clerk gives me a suspicious look. Did she know of my problem? Did I look like an addict? My head spun with guilt. I overcame my hesitation to indulge by rationalizing that this one would be the last one I would buy. I swiped my card, signed my contract to pay and slinked out of the store like a trick leaves a brothel.

Back at my new house I stumbled through the maze of still unpacked boxes and pushed aside a pile of newspaper wrapped bri-a-brac on a table to unwrap my new purchase. Ahhh, the green one. Its siren song lured me to hold it up and drink in the warm feeling of a new purchase. I wanted to feel the warm burn in my gut. But something stopped me. I wondered if the new green one would go with my old yellow one. Where is that box I put it?? I frantically rummaged through box after box. The labels blurred. DR, LR, BR… where was it? Finally, frustrated from my furtive search I plopped wearily into my big boy recliner to think. Maybe I put it into the miscellaneous junk box. No, I remembered specifically hanging onto the yellow one when I was packing and pondering whether to toss it or pack it. But I couldn’t remember my decision. What did I do with the blue one? Why wasn’t it with the yellow one? There was so much stuff to decide on and the movers were just over the horizon.

Oh well. Now I had a green one. I didn’t need the yellow one, or the blue one anymore. I got up and walked over to the table where the green one beckoned me. I picked it up to admire it when it hit me. I remembered that I tossed the yellow one because the blue one was busted and both of them held bad memories and tough times that I wanted to forget about. In my new house I wanted to get a fresh start, a new life, new memories, better times.

I looked down at my new green (fill in the blank). It didn’t look as pretty as it did in the store. Why did I even buy it? It was just like the other ones but a different color. I look around at all the other boxes that surround me. The stack seemed to get higher, closing in on me, stifling me.

What had I done!? Nothing has changed, except my location. All I have done is transfer my old life into my new one. I was afraid this might happen. Before I moved, I projected that a change in latitudes may not bring about a change in attitudes. Dejected about my realization I decided to take a shower to clear my head. As I took off my clothes in my new bedroom I glanced out the expansive windows and saw a panoramic vista of woods and mountains. Much nicer than the dismal view of the alley at my old house. I began to throw my clothes on the floor like I did in my dingy old house. Then I looked at my big, new, light filled bedroom and flashed back to how depressed I felt every time I walked through the musty darkness of my old house. Throwing clothes on the floor and watching dust bunnies scamper around only seemed natural and added to the dismal decrepit aura I had created living there.

-Moving Ahead-

In mid sock toss it hits me. I don’t have to feel that way anymore! I can actually walk around my bed without hitting the walls. Now I can make my bed without banging my shins on the bed frame which means I might actually make my bed instead of leaving it a rumpled heap. The dust bunnies won’t have a chance to breed since I can actually run the vacuum cleaner without snagging the cord on my chest of drawers which are now across the room and not crowding the foot of my bed. The dreary closed in feeling dissipated like clouds revealing the sun after a storm. I throw my clothes into the previously un-used laundry hamper, drift over the soft, warm carpet into my new bathroom and turn on my new high velocity shower head in my new sparkling white shower stall and not the old rust stained tub with its drizzly spit spigot of my old one. As the steam envelopes me, I reflect on how much different it feels to be in a new latitude. The shower spray is hot and strong. The drain actually drains. My faucets don’t leak. I have an expansive vanity with 2 sinks (though I have no use for 2 sinks it feels good that if I get lucky and snag a gorgeous loving mate she would have her own sink and places to put her lotions and potions).

I get dressed, I am feeling invigorated. I walk into the kitchen to make some dinner. My new refrigerator is not full of 6 month old food (well to be truthful some of my old fridge contents were becoming vintage, and I am not talking about wine). I can dispense filtered water and ice by merely pushing my glass into the fridge door. "Iced tea anyone? Would you like your ice cubed or crushed? No, no problem. All I have to do is push this button." I relish the feeling of opening the silverware drawer that actually glides open and closes without a shove. I have plenty of new un-cluttered cabinets. Maybe now I won’t have the convenient excuse to just stack all the plates in the sink because I don’t have a place to put them. My oven is clean and even programmable. No more pulling out pizzas that are charred and smell more like burned food than bubbly cheese. I actually have a vent hood over my stove that sucks in all the smoke from cooking a steak and doesn't let the whole house fill with smoke to the point that I had to disable the smoke alarm in the old house. Now I have a garbage disposal so I don’t have to scrape the dishes clean before placing them into a new dishwasher. One more incentive to keep dirty plates from piling up because it was too much of a hassle to wash them.

I am getting excited. I decide to wash some clothes. In my old house I put off doing laundry because it meant dangerously carrying a heaping armload of wash down my steep, not built to code, stairs into the dungeon I called a basement. Now, all I have to do is carry it 10 feet from the bedroom to the laundry room. Maybe now I won’t go out and buy new underwear just because it was too much of a hassle to get to the washing machine.

As I carry my dinner into the living room I once again look out the windows to the vista outside as the sun paints the horizon purple as it travels West. I plop down in my big boy chair feeling rejuvenated. Yeah, I still got a lot of old crap in boxes still laying around me, but now it doesn’t seem as if I am just a stumbling bum weaving wayward with a shopping cart full of cast offs . I’ll get to it later with a new attitude about holding on to my past life as I toss the majority of the baggage I brought with me into the dumpster.

For now, I am just going to relax and wrap myself into my new attitude. I turn on the TV and settle in. I forget about the new green thing still lying on the table. Now I am staring at my 7 year old 27” TV and thinking about how nice it would be to have a 42” plasma screen to get lost in.

The cycle continues…