Packing

Boxes

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There’s a poetic resonance that six-years-ago a journey began, a chapter of my life started with my chronicling my packing to leave a flat, and here, a gauntlet of twists and turns later, a similar act appears to be concluding it.  Here, far in time if not in distance, I find myself surrounded by my worldly possessions, the material worth of my life, packed neatly into boxes, sealed, and waiting departure*.

Peering round at these boxes, I find it strange my life fits so easily into such compact spaces. My mind has been less easily arranged; how much simpler this endeavour would be if I could pack my emotions away, secure them with binds tight enough to hold them, at least for a time. Honestly, coming to terms with the transition I will have to make has been one of the most tumultuous things I have ever had to do. A storm in a cup. An endless wave of to-ing and fro-ing. But then, I never have been great with true uncertainty. Too many possibilities weaving through my head, I suppose.

The reality is reaching me, like ice running down my back. Seeing all my life packed away makes the truth of the matter unavoidable. There’s little I’m actually sure of in this new venture, little to hold unto as the earth becomes unsteady beneath my feet. So much is unknown**. It’s a bit like standing on a tall cliff, peering down into a dark well, unable to see how far the ground is from your face, or if there is a ground at all. Bleak and unwelcome as the cliff face may be, it’s certainly feels better to linger than to leap into the possible abyss***. Yet, I know in just a matter of days, I have to jump, straight into the unpredictable mouth of reality.

And thank Goodness for Chris, who has, in this time of storms and trepidation, been a constant reassurance; who has paced forward with all the mastery of the officer he is, and hired vans, and hauled boxes, and uttered a string of reassurance. His patience has been extraordinary.

“Tell me again, please, that it will be alright. That this is the right thing to do. That I will be okay,” I’ll say.

“It’ll be okay. You’ll be okay. This is the right thing. You’re strong.” Again and again he will answer.

“I don’t feel strong,” I’ll admit when the fear is bubbling, a kettle raising to boiling.

“You are. You could have stopped, but you’re soldiering on. Your head is at war with your heart.” He will say.

I’ve spoken about his ability to methodically assess these large undertakings without batting an eye. He compartmentalizes, evaluating what needs to be done, when and how, and who is best to do it^. All I’ve really had to worry too much about is packing; I’ve been trying to avoid contemplating life beyond the actual move, because my head racks up too many ideas about what will happen. But Chris has been thinking analytically on my behalf. Somewhere in his planning he came across the issue of my getting around, and, without prompting, purchased a bike for me^^.

His kindness continues to astound me. It makes me sure about him, if I am sure of nothing else; it makes me trust his words, his intentions and his being enough to keep venturing on. Even when it feels like teeth sinking into my heart, and the idea of leaving is just too much. Even when I can’t trust myself, I at least can trust him. There’s a lot riding on that right now. Where my feet are unsteady, his are firm, and he allows me to lean against him when I stumble. A situation becoming more frequent by the hour.

There were times when I was stowing away clothes and ornaments that I genuinely worried where I would be taking them out again. The hardest part was the books. The hardest part is always the books; the items in my life which hold the most importance, the most memories, the most value. I don’t like them shut away. I don’t like them to be far from me. That must sound strange to those who are not bibliophiles, those who have no love for words and stories. Perhaps, though, those of you who can understand, sympathize with me when I say books have souls, paper ghosts which energize a space. It hurts to condemn them to darkness in boxes – to shut their spirits away, again. They were sad. I could feel it. Without my books I am most assuredly not at home. That’s why I cannot picture releasing them from their prison, because home is a concept mush adrift. Possibly it lies at the bottom of that abyss, but also, possibly it does not.

Home is an odd idea. A house is a place where we take our boxes, if we are lucky and have wealth enough for shelter (a  luxury I am aware many suffer without), but a home is more. For everyone, a home is different. I’ve never much settled long enough in one particular abode to gain a true idea of what exactly ‘home’ is. Family? Perhaps, though mine has long since scattered^^^. Personal space? This seems a materialistic idea, but independence and creative expression have always been of value to me. Somewhere to put the books? Yes, but there’s more to it than that; more a place where the books can be free. Where I can too I suppose.

A home is a place where you gain something. Energy, love, safety, closeness, experiences, peace, a sense of self. A home comes with time and feeling; you can move house, but a true home is constructed with the mind. In all the places I have lived in Plymouth, I’ve gained something. Even the homes which broke around me, and the ones I knew would be temporary. I can pack away possessions; I can remove pictures from walls, and wrap glass figures carefully, but I cannot box my emotions, my self, things I may lose. I can’t box a home and take it with me – I must dismantle one to create another.

If I could box all those experiences, all that love and chaos and heart-break, all that closeness, the friends I’ve made and the wisdom gained, the late nights thinking, how many boxes would I have? If I could take them and box them, or pull them into a Pensieve, I wonder just how much there would be sitting before me, how much I may have forgotten^* swirling in pictures before me.

If I could stack every lesson learned the way one stacks plates, how high would the tower reach? If I could witness the pieces of my heart each time it was broken, laid out before me, how long would I be stepping on jagged pieces? If I could paint every kindness granted me, every instant of human love and compassion granted, how large would my gallery be*^?

Packing up my belonging hasn’t been fun. It’s never been an act I have enjoyed, for many reasons. I don’t know if being able to turn the abstracts real and pack them instead would be any more enjoyable, but I’m willing to bet it would be illuminating. I can recall a fair lot of it when the situation calls; a great sum must have lodged itself into my sub-conscious, retained as part of my instincts. Yet, I do ponder the idea of being able to see ten years of my existence physically before me, to see the shape and colour it all takes, to witness the sheer size of it all.

How much space would ten years take? How many boxes?

However, I am left with only the memories which are linked to the items and pictures I am packing away. Those in the books I have collected in my time here, and in the ornaments gifted me for birthdays and Christmases. In the smiling faces frozen in time.

And as I sit here among my belongings, knowing soon they will be somewhere else, contemplating, I’m really not sure how I feel about any of it, only that it all meant something, being here, only that the next place will come to mean something equally as vital.

I hope.


*This time around at least, I have been much more organised. So prepared am I, this laptop is seated on a box as I write. Twenty-one year old me would be proud of the robust organisation skills I have managed to gain recently.

**As in the unknowable, not the second (third?) generation Pokemon. You know, the ones which looked like letters? …. It might have been third gen. Come to think of it, I think it was spelled without the ‘k’. These ones in any case.

***Gosh, sorry about that metaphor folks – kinds long and forced, but makes my point I feel. I promise, when my life is more settled I’ll think of better similes, like a writer who’s better at this….  Life a leaf on the wind of knowledge…. Oh nevermind.

^He’s a warfare officer, so this stuff is somewhere in his blood now – but I’m told this is Logistics work, which encompasses a different department of the Navy. I think he would be good at it … but don’t tell him I said that. He’s pretty awesome at the navigation thing too.

^^Dubbed Peddle Pony. I’ll explain later.

^^^ The five of us now reside in four different locations, spanning three countries. I may someday calculate the hours and miles undertaken for us all to reach each other in a given year, though I think the number would be most daunting.

^*Though I’m not 100% sure if that’s how a pensieve works – can you record and take memories you don’t remember having??? … Probably not. For the sake of this post, let’s just say you can.

*^Enormous. Gargantuan and marvelous and going on forever.

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Packing: Day 7

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Yesterday I transferred a huge amount of the mind-shattering clutter out of my room, and so I am once again endowed with the beauty of space. A couple of loads were taken down to my new place via suitcase, while a further amount I waved goodbye to at a couple of the local charity shops. A large bundle of unwanted clothes found itself in the Salvation Army fabrics recycling bin, and the skyline-painting was given to a friend who really liked it. So, I have reclaimed some territory, and not only has eating become a less precarious affair, but writing has become less of a task as well. However, the sudden reduction in possessions has made me realise just how close I am to leaving the place I have known as home for the past eleven months. My time as a student is almost at an end.

When I moved here I was terrified I would be buried in financial restrictions, and while it has been a struggle it’s not nearly as bad as I had imagined. With my final year of University on the horizon, and a difficult break-up just behind me, I was standing on the precipice on uncertainty; how strange it is to find myself now at the end of such a defining period of my life. 

I’ve only got a few things to get sorted now. I have to pack to large shelving units worth of books so that we will be able to carry them. A challenge. Also, my entertainment area needs to be disconnected and stored, each console with its own components, ready for moving. Despagettifying wires is going to be fun. That’s all that’s left, and now that the distraction of packing is nearly complete, I find myself having the time to observe the empty spaces remaining where pieces of my life once stood. I remember each day that passed here; despite everything happening outside, they were happy, and they were mine.

I was talking about this with my dear friend Andreas, explaining how sad I was that the home which has been my safe-house in a worrying and emotional time was soon no longer going to belong to me, and he said this: ‘But that time has passed now’, and he is right.

Packing: Day 5

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My room looks like this

and don’t even get me started on the writing.

Packing: Day 4

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I hate packing. Packing and I are at odds with each other, because it seems no matter how much packing I do more needs to be done. Packing is like a small child screaming for attention in a supermarket, and I’m getting weary of its cries. I didn’t know I owned so much stuff; I didn’t think the Tsar of Russia could own the amount of stuff I do.

Where do we as human beings accumulate all our stuff? And then we buy buildings in which to place all our stuff to keep all our stuff dry, and then when we have too much stuff, we move to a bigger storage facility to house it all.

My carefully constructed series of pathways have dissolved under the burden of all the boxes, so I’m having to get around by hopping over them instead. For safety purposes all my meals are being taken cold.

No SuWriMos update today. A shame upon my head …

Falling behind under piles of stuff.

Packing: Day 3

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Stuff! Stuff everywhere! Books, boxes, clothes, stationary! Everywhere. On the good side I found a box filled with things I thought I had accidentally thrown away when I last moved. These things I really did need for University, and I ended up spending funds replacing them; they included a pack of paper, polly-pockets, and overhead projector sheets. I’m happy about that find, and if I had enough room in which to do a jig of joy I would, but as it happens my once vast apartment is becoming ever more cramped. No jumping room … barely any walking room. I navigate via a series of deliberate spaces between my many packing projects. To get from the hall to the kitchen you have to veer around a labyrinth of DVD storage containers (I’m trying to give-away films I no longer watch very often), and then take a left (the right is blocked by a ‘charity clothes’ box) at the needlework and craft-things area.

The essentials which are being used everyday are in a safe-haven on the wall-side of the bed, where I can access them easily when I get up. Making a meal has become a hazardous affair. Yesterday evening I needed to drain a pan full of boiling pasta into the sink. Making a misjudgment in my stride I almost tripped over a stack of books, and barely managed to keep from being scolded when I splashed the water. Fortunately, the only casualty was a washing basket. He’ll get over it I’m sure.

SuWriMos update! 59,800/100,000 … appalling. 800 words in 3 days isn’t much to brag about, but with the move, I think I have a decent excuse. Some Gaians commented my Gaia account with some heart-warming encouragement, and I thank you. Although, I think until the move is over I won’t be getting too many words written. Who knows.

If I survive making tonight’s supper I’ll maybe do some more word-smithing this evening, and then resume the packing fiasco tomorrow.

Packing: Day 1

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I have a lot of stuff, and I have recently been putting all my material possessions into boxes so that I can transport them to a new space between four walls, one much smaller than I currently reside in. This means that either I’m not going to be able to walk safely around my new pad, or I’m going to have to get rid of most of what I own. I’ve chosen the latter choice, which is hard because I get so easily attached to things. When I find something I have forgotten about for months on end, I’ll make a resolution to remember I have it, and tell myself it’ll come in handy if a certain event should arise, and then I’ll put it away somewhere and forget I own it. Hopeless pack-rats have nothing on me. Time to sever my attachments and force myself to gut the clutter of objects which I’ll never use.

So far in the minimal sorting I have managed to do I have found a small decorate box filled with fairy stationary, which I didn’t know I had, and a scary faced angel ornament you could only picture in your most unnerving nightmares. Both have been placed in a large box in the corner of the kitchen marked ‘Charity’. During my residency here, I also procured a dusky portrait of the New-York skyline for free, and that is sadly being placed in the same bundle. There are a few books which have managed to stow-away on my shelves without my notice for the past eleven months, which I will never read – into the charity pile with those too.

Assembled all about me are archive boxes obtained a few years back from my Mother’s law firm, as well as self-assembly storage crates snagged from GAME before they closed. Everything is filling up rather quickly, and I’m running out of space to actually pack things in. Luckily, my new abode is only a fifteen minute walk from this apartment otherwise I’d be in deep trouble. I’ll probably have to cart some things down there in a suitcase a bit at a time before my Father comes down in a week to move me completely.

In the meantime, I’m still clinging to SuWriMos, but finding that a cluttered space isn’t a nice environment to keep a healthy writing ethic. Those of you who have joined the three-month pen-pushing period on Gaia seem to be doing will in your efforts. I’m slightly behind schedule at just under  59,000, but that included the blog posts, and some short-story work. The novel isn’t nearly as far gone as I hoped it would be at this stage, but we’re only just half-way through and we all have many days left before we hit September to catch up. In other words, fear not, the game isn’t over until the fat-lady’s wrist snaps.