Today is my last full day at the home I’ve lived in for the last 11 years. That’s the door I’ve walked through thousands of times, coming home from the studio, heading out to walk the dogs, coming in from a night with friends, going out for a drive up the coast. Escrow closes next Friday (11th), the day after I move abroad.
I spent the last two days packing all my belongings into boxes and putting them in one of those POD units for storage while I’m out of the country. I would show you a photo of how much stuff I sent to storage except I’m embarrassed. Let’s just say I’ve been very good for the economy over the last decade or so — buying all of the things I thought were reflections of success and adulthood. I actually had pangs of nausea while clearing the house for three yard sales over the past few weeks. Some stuff still had tags on it. I’m not sure why I’m admitting this in a public blog post, except maybe it can be a cautionary tale for younger people who have not yet gone as far down this consumptive road. Stop buying shit. Just stop. Especially in this season of overspending and crass commercialism… stop. You don’t need it. Go outside and play instead. Take a road trip. Have a special meal somewhere. It’s so much more important and fulfilling. I’ve learned this lesson slowly… and I hope to keep learning it as I start living out of a suitcase. (And yes, I fully acknowledge that I probably have too much technology going along on this adventure as I learn how to pare down to necessities versus wants.)
I wish I’d been able to do what a friend did and get rid of or sell pretty much all of my things. He calls it The Great Ridding (he’s going abroad, too) and went from a two-story house full of stuff to two small bags and a few boxes. I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t have time, and I also kept thinking about the day I come back (assuming I do) and how I’m not sure I want to start over completely, without even my favorite Dutch oven for cooking. Or my bike. Or my bed. I guess I still find comfort in my things, and maybe that will change over time and I’ll come back and just give that whole storage unit away. Who knows. Until then, I am a POD person.
I haven’t been as emotional about all this as I thought I would be. I think I’m compartmentalizing to the nth power just so I can get through a to-do list that adds an item every time I complete one. I’m finally at the point where I just have to admit that some of these things won’t get done (new website, ugh) but that’s fine. I am clearly in denial that my flight leaves in less than a week. Even all that packing didn’t make it real. I did slump to the floor of my closet a couple of days ago and sob after finding out that some of the repairs that should have been done on the house weren’t quite up to snuff and might affect our closing date. But I know it was about more than that. I haven’t cried when saying goodbye to friends, though, or my parents. That seems weird. “You’ll probably do it as the plane is taking off,” one friend told me this week. My seatmate will surely appreciate that. But maybe I’m not emotional because I’m really excited! Even though I’m wholly unprepared, and I have no idea what my life is going to look like one week from now, it’s what I wanted, and I’m ready for the adventure, even though I will miss my life here.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one other development that has me thinking deeply about what I’m leaving behind. A close friend found out about a week ago that he has an inoperable brain tumor. I’ve spent some time with him and his wife the last few days, trying like hell to say the right things and provide the right kind of support, the whole time knowing that my ability to “be there” has a limited shelf life. A virtual hug over Skype just isn’t the same as the real thing. This almost makes me not want to leave. I know they understand why I’m going, and they’re the first to tell me to go no matter what’s happening. But as their friend, I want to be here. I guess what this kind of news does is remind all of us of that old cliche that life can change in an instant. We’ve all had a lot of reminders of that recently with heartache unfolding on what seems like a daily basis. So I have to look at all those reminders as affirmation that when you feel compelled to act, to make a change, to pursue something at odds with what you expected of yourself… you must listen. You. Must. Listen. Because you just never know how much time you’ll have.
T-minus six days.