Monday, October 09, 2006

Packing Up

I have not seen a 5000 piece wardrobe but have come pretty close. A few weeks ago, I helped a friend move a lifetime of possessions to self-storage as she prepares to sell her condo. This was the home of her dreams and I could see why. It stands by a river in the middle of the woods - a sense of peace descends on you the moment you enter the driveway. Civilization is within twenty minutes but feels like it could be light years away.

There were more that fifty cardboard boxes in the hallway when I arrived and the bedrooms were overflowing with more. Memories jostled with each other for space and the closets brimmed over with clothes that spanned several decades in fashion. A bottle of Chanel perfume from the 50s that belonged to her mother, grandma's tortoise shell combs, retro and art deco jewelry from her teens, books, music, prints, slides, travel memorabilia and everyday things poured out of boxes.

For years, she has traveled for work and for pleasure - there was never enough time to unpack and settle. When at last she seemed to have found a home of her own, circumstances conspired to render it untenable.

We worked all Saturday and part of Sunday to get everything boxed and put away. When we finally sat down on the living room couch to eat our Chinese take-out dinner, it was close to midnight. She commented "It feels light around here now" and I had to agree. Possessions and old memories do have a literal and figurative weight. Surprisingly though, I felt weighed down and depressed - twelve hours of sifting and sorting through the substance of someone's life had taken its toll.

Being familiar with the rootless state, I wondered if this is how my life might turn out if I remained wandering from place to place as I have been for the last few years. It does help that I don't own much and have no desire to acquire either - maybe instead of her hundred odd boxes I will end up with ten. After that weekend, I feel an urgent need to plant roots.

2 comments:

SFGary said...

You call it putting down roots I call it the packrat syndrome. Two of us in my family take after my mother, a packrat. Stuff comes in the door and rarely leaves. The other two throw away or give stuff away in a very short period and resist saving anything.

I recently came around to the view that putting down roots as having an impact in your community, workplace and friends. I don't know if personal possessions have the same effect. Not that I am giving up my car, PCs, my wine cellar, and various other consumer electronics that one "needs" to survive.

Heartcrossings said...

SFG - I agree about the correlation between "roots" and having impact in the community. A home with a wine cellar makes the deal so much for durable though :)