The problem with packing is this: it forces you to consider every item or habit you’ve stuffed away in the dark corners of your literal and figurative closets. It starts as a logistical puzzle (why do wine racks not fit in any normal sized box?) and inevitably (d)evolves into a psychological review at the worst possible time. What’s better than a personality assessment in the middle of a giant change? Packing is the process of taking stock: Who are you? What have you done? What are you neglecting?
Forensically, here’s what one could deduce about me from the items that have now been pulled from my apartment and packed away in a climate-controlled 9’x23’ storage unit:
I like arts and crafts, but may be neglecting them. By sheer volume, my two bins of fabric, two bins of yarn, crate of beads and random paints, pens, and old cameras reveal I like to dabble. The yoga moves required to pull some of those out of the closet in my study proves I haven’t been dabbling much lately.
- I like the idea of being a cook, but haven’t actually learned how to do it. Except baking. My cookie sheets are worn, and there are dough remnants on the vent of my hand mixer. But my spices seem to languish, I don’t own a grill, and my slow cooker and immersion blender look barely touched.
- I like to eat with chopsticks. A lot.
- I’m an avid reader. Basically, it’s reading and book-hording that require me to have movers.
As my closet progressed from the large, lovely space in which I was perfectly comfortable waiting out a tornado siren, to a place that looked like a tornado just struck, I couldn’t help but wonder what part of our identities is created out of ‘stuff.’ In this city of the $30,000 millionaire, stuff is pretty important, and I have a lot of it. But none of the stuff I own helps me be more “Dallas.” I’m more REI than Tori Burch, more Fleuvog than Laboutin. I have a fair number of purses (I even have a Michael Kors and a Kate Spade), but I traipse around with a Timbuk2 messenger bag that I bought at Whole Earth. In a city where people sell their souls to lease a BMW, I’m still driving around in my 13-year old VW wagon. Stick shift. And yet, I love my things. I consider them a part of me.
The irony is that in a month, I won’t care that I have almost none of these things with me. I will have moments where I miss a photo, want to pull out a book and read it, or feel like putting on some heels to hit the town in LA, but I’ll survive without all of them. I just went away for five days with only jeans, a skirt, a bathingsuit and a couple of shirts. When I returned to my apartment, which movers had emptied into storage right before my departure, my first thought was, “what is all this stuff still doing here?!”
Another purge and three trips to the storage unit later, I came home, thinking I was done, and found the shredder, the full length mirror, and a box of packing paper smirking at me from the living room.
I’ll spare you the expletive. I’ll probably run them over to storage later this evening, but it’s hard not to leave them in the trash (despite this being the only shredder I’ve never managed to break just by regular use). I’m done with this whole thing. I’ll be more done with it in three days when I sit down to transpose from notebook to excel file the spreadsheet of boxes – number, size, contents, location, fragility – I created over the last month. Because the only thing that will feel more cumbersome 8 months from now when I’m reunited with 9’x23’x8’ of my belongings after traveling the world with only 1’x3’ of them in a backpack, would be having NO IDEA what’s in any of those boxes.