I moved into a new house this weekend. Since graduating college 8 years ago I’ve moved 15 times. I should be an expert by now, but I feel this past weekend’s move was one of my best. Not because it wasn’t fraught with all of the normal stresses of living in and out of boxes and decor decisions, not to mention the one freeze in 59000 Lille that will happen all year… All of those were there. It was more because I took just a little more time to really reflect on what a move really means and both embrace and celebrate it.
A few things helped me do this. First, I took a little time each day to be alone and reflect on what I was leaving behind. I remember taking a C.S. Lewis course in college and the professor talking about the fact that Lewis often believed and wrote as if spaces and homes were animate. In other words, the walls and spaces themselves took on a life of their own (think about the armoire in the Chronicles of Narnia being the link between two alternate worlds), and often became a very deep part of one’s life experience, or so he believed. This weekend I took time to be in the old space alone. To remember the good and the bad and the season of life that space saw me through, one that has gone and won’t come again. I stared into empty rooms and remembered the people I laughed and cried with in them, the puppy that destroyed it and the spray paint stains left behind from new creations I was attempting.
I’m the opposite of a hoarder believe it or not. My mother used to have week-long house purges where she would attempt to throw away 30 things a day and I gotta say now that I’m grown I kinda get it. The amount of random stuff I come across in a move baffles me. And there was indeed a fair amount of purging. But in this move, I also came to understand the value of donating and how little extra time it really takes and how far it can go. Books and art supplies and clothes and tools and dishes and all of the things that you collect too many of are often someone else’s first and only…
For creative alternatives for who and where to give go here.
Mostly friends made it meaningful. The bottles of champagne that were given. Flower arrangements and popcorn and chocolates, text messages and entertaining emojis… I’ve come to find there’s kind of nothing like the genuine happiness that one person feels for another when the feeler has absolutely nothing to gain from doing so. And that too is what I felt this weekend.
Overall it was just a little more focus on the substance and less on the stress. As I write this I sit inside new walls where new memories will be made. Walls that will probably be painted, wallpapered and nailed into so many times they’ll tire of me. But love me for it too.
My never-ending house project begins…