I’m moving across the country in two weeks. I accepted a new position with a company I love working for, in a place I’ve wanted to live for some time, working in a role that should teach me a ton. So as I alternate between excitement and anxiety, I’m faced with sorting through my belongings and deciding what I want to move from the east coast to the west.
I’m no stranger to moving. I moved in and out of Loomis Chaffee for three years of high school, Franklin & Marshall for my first year of college, and NYU for the remainder. But unlike my experiences going back and forth between school dorms and home, this is it. There’s no coming back. And even as I type the words, I’m having a hard time coming to terms with it. You see, I always knew those places were temporary. And I approached it like that – to the point of rarely putting anything on the walls of my rooms, since I’d just have to take it down at the end of the year.
Now you might be saying that that’s no different than anybody who rents an apartment, right? So why not decorate? It certainly didn’t stop my peers. But the truth is that while I lived in those dorms, I still had my room at home. Which meant a place to keep important items, an attic to hold left over things, and a house to, well, live in. I suppose moving back in after I graduated didn’t help any in that regard (like a good number of my peers, I ended up back home after college to save money). But I’m not going to have that anymore. Anything I want to keep I need to take with me now. Which has led to a lot of emotional decision making.
It’s such a “first world problem,” right? It’s something that has resulted from the culture I grew up in and afforded to me by my parent’s socioeconomic status. After all, modern American culture allows for the accumulation of stuff, and my parent’s financial resources enabled me to collect and house the flotsam and jetsam of my life. And it’s true that I’ll be able to keep some of it. Hell, I could keep all of it if I wanted to – so long as I don’t mind shipping it to California.
But why should I? What possible reason would I have to keep textbooks from high school and college for things I don’t even study any more (microbiology textbook anyone?) The answer is that I don’t. So I dropped off five boxes of books at the library. And I’ll probably be donating some portion of the contents of my closet in the next few days. But that stuff is easy. The books and clothes are replaceable, and if I haven’t worn/read it in the last six months then I’m probably not going to in the next six.
But some items are difficult. When I graduated from NYU, I put all of my notebooks in the attic (right next to the box containing my textbooks). I haven’t looked at them in two years. Logically, it’s just paper that can be recycled. Emotionally, it represents hours and hours of hard work. This isn’t an issue so long as I had space to keep these things – I could keep my notes in the attic, just like I keep my memories of those classes somewhere in my head. It joined some boxes of childhood toys up there, right next to the suitcases. But I don’t know where I’ll be living in California, so I have no concept of how much space I’ll have. And let’s face it, my notes from school are hardly important. Nor are some of the other items I’m unsure about taking.
I could keep this stuff here. I might still. But unlike when I was in college, I can’t bank on the house being here for a variety of reasons I don’t care to share on the internet. So it’s now or never. It’s take it with me or give it away. A simple dichotomy, right?
So why is this so hard?