So, before we moved back in, we figured we'd take the opportunity to replace the carpets since the house would be empty and none of the furniture would be in the carpeted rooms. We moved everything to the house from storage, but the earliest the carpet installers can come is the end of the month.
This means, we are in a very slow mode of unpacking. We found everything labeled for the kitchen and it is mostly all in its place (but, oddly, we still haven't found the silverware, so we're using disposable cutlery). Everything else stays mainly in boxes and in the living room.
|Note the walking path through the stuff on the tile...|
It's so much stuff.
After a year of the same 7 days worth of clothes and very little else, it's shocking to realize just how much *stuff* we have when we live our lives based from home. I have a medium sized moving box full of fabric bags (race bags, beach bags, gift bags, wine bags, etc.) that we primarily used as packing material. I'll be taking it, along with another box full of T-shirts that we also used as packing material, and several other random things to Good Will.
The reality is, we don't need most of what we have. We did a bunch of purging as we packed up, and as we slowly unpack, we're doing more each day.
I've always had a compulsion to minimize my belongings. But now, opening boxes to see a huge collection of stuff I haven't used or needed in a year, such as photos, shoes, or jewelry, actually weighs me down. I left thinking I'd scan the photos when I got back. Now, I'm seriously considering going through them once, limiting myself to 100 or so that I'll keep, and pitching the rest.
Interestingly, because we'd remodeled the kitchen recently, very little in the kitchen feels like a burden. The kitchen is probably the room in the house where I own the most physical objects (other than books) and yet, it feels like I will use almost each and every object that I unpacked in the next year. For the most part I welcomed the unpacking of the kitchen -- I'd missed it! I did find a set of bowls and a spice jar I added to the Good Will pile, but I also found a gorgeous wedding gift of a fancy Laguoile cheese knife set complete with gift card that neither of us remembered ever seeing before (11+ years ago -- I wonder if we sent a thank you?), so I think it evens out to zero.
It's not just the physical stuff I'm unpacking, of course. I returned home to many tasks that I'd put off over the year. Taxes, financial planning/management, administrative stuff for my law practice, a couple of family dramas that really need some focused attention, plus just general life management stuff -- they all have to be dealt with and addressed. Preferably ASAP. It feels like I'm reluctantly pulling a bunch of my life out of a dark corner where I hid it all year. Most of it is stuff I'm not happy to see. I loved the illusion that I didn't have it to deal with it that I was able to maintain. Perhaps some of it is possible to outsource or ignore more than I have traditionally. I will likely spend some time investigating that.
And then, of course, there are the habits. I've completely forgotten how much work consumes me and distracts me. How when I'm fully consumed by work, I have to keep lists for everything or it won't get done. How I need to plan my day the night before so I can do all non-emergent detail management before bed. I'm slowly returning to the processes that keep me sane and on track when I'm working. Again, perhaps I won't return to all of them, but many of them are actually necessary when I'm working, and I'm starting to realize that I was only able to shed them because I wasn't working.
And finally, there are the people. If it's possible, I became even more of a true introvert this year. This year confirmed that E is my favorite person and I love spending time talking (and not talking) with him. My other close friends and family with whom I've reconnected since our return are the same -- I enjoy our long discussions and I feel safe if I need to be quiet.
Socially interacting with groups of people I actually know and have relationships with is exhausting in a way I'd forgotten. The second night in our home we attended a wedding and it was so great to see so many people we hadn't seen in so long. But it was also so demanding. Strangers with a foreign language? I can talk to them with joy and exuberance -- fueled by the fun of learning more language. Strangers who know my friends? There's so much to think about and process and worry about when meeting and speaking with them -- I don't want to say the wrong thing or offend. My close friends know that I often say things in a way that others wouldn't say them. They know that harsh words from me may not actually be intended as harsh -- it may just be how my weird way of thinking works. In a foreign language, these mistakes are forgiven as *language* errors. But in English, at home, with acquaintances, they are nothing except impolite, insensitive, or awkward, so I have to work *really* hard to avoid them.
In a way, I'm glad we're stuck in this pseudo-unpacked physical state for a month. It's giving me time and physical space to be thoughtful about how my old life was and how I'd like my new life to be after the lessons learned on the road.