The past few weeks I’ve been pitching, sorting, donating, selling and packing my accumulation of possessions. The cross country move to Seattle commences this Sunday.
According to all those organizing freaks you see on TV, when assessing an object, you need to ask, “Do you love it? Do you use it?” If the answer is no, it goes. I’d like to say I could say that about ALL my books, but alas, I had to pare those down. I kept what I felt sentimental about (A Monet coffee table book my father gave me for Christmas a few years before he died, and my Jansen’s History of Art from my art school days,) books I couldn't replace in a million years (Living In Dacca, and some out of print books I scavenged from library weeding,) and of course many, many poetry books. Still, as much as it broke my heart, I pared down my many volumes of Pablo Neruda and Billy Collins to an essential few. I am hoping to replace some books once I get to Seattle where they still have brick and mortar bookstores. Contemporary fiction can also be replenished, though I did keep Kafka on the Shore and Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murkami.
Most of my DVDs and CDs joined books I sold to Half Price Books, and 90% of my journals saw the shredder. Rereading my entries from the 80’s and 90’s and early 00’s made me realize 1.) I’m not that interesting, and 2.) I sure whine a lot. I kept the diary I wrote in 6th grade before we moved overseas where I listed what we ate for dinner. I also kept my 8th grade diary where I had a crush on a different boy every week.
I donated my long underwear and winter pajamas to Goodwill. I will need flannel PJs this winter but I will buy new ones, and since the weather doesn't dip below zero there I can probably survive without long johns.
The couple who bought my house is newly married, and they said anything I wanted to leave they would find a use for. I’ve sold much of my furniture to friends, so in a way my stuff is now part of my extended family. The only furniture I am taking are two director’s chairs and a small folding brass table (my living room suite) and an inflatable bed (my bedroom suite.) I don't how large of a place I will have, so it’s easier to start with a clean slate.
When I set out this Sunday, I will be like a college kid leaving home for the first time, except this teenager is sixty years old, and bringing two cats. (The rest of what I am keeping will be shipped once I have an address.) Technically, I am not only unemployed (retired) I am also homeless. But luckily I’ve budgeted for living in an Extended Stay hotel until I either buy a condo or rent one. I do have family out in the Pacific Northwest I could stay with, but I having two cats will render me the houseguest from hell.
At lunch the other day a friend asked if I’m scared about the driving. “That’s a long ass way,” he said. “I’d be scared to death.” I’ve made several cross country drives before. Granted I was younger, and only once was alone. What concerns me more than the drive this time around is traveling with animals. Pablo is pretty chill and will likely sleep his way to Seattle, but Henry is the world’s most annoying cat on a good day. He will likely narrate the entire journey in whatever language he speaks.
Summer is hot, so whenever I stop to gas up the car, buy lunch, or pee, I need to keep my furry friends cool. Two years ago when I lost power for nine days during a heat wave, I had bought two battery operated fans, so when I am out of the car I will run the fans on the cats as I buy my lunch to go. I have a gallon of water to keep in the car, and each night I can replenish at hotels.
And how bad will my car smell if one of them uses the litter box on the road?
Those are small concerns. Giving up possessions and driving a long way will feel effortless compared to leaving behind the many wonderful people I’ve known and loved in my forty plus years in Ohio.
Facebook will help me stay in touch with people, and many friends have said they will visit me in Seattle, yet I know it’s not the same as being there. I grew up moving. Every three or four years my family packed up and moved to a new city, state, or country, so a cross country move is not new, but leaving people behind is never easy.
I’ll miss how the baristas at Starbucks sometimes have my drink ready before I pay, and how the counter people and cooks at Giacomos know my regular sandwich and soup choices. I’ll miss knowing the ebb and flow of this small city and where things are located without using a map.
Those of you closest to me know I will miss you the most.
A new adventure awaits, and over the next few weeks I plan to share installment of my journey through my blog.
Back to packing……