Flashback: Journey to the West: Part Two


It’s nice being able to look back on the whole uprooting process. Looking back, I can definitely tell that the move was worth it and that getting rid of everything I got rid of is going to save me a lot of headache and heartache in the future. During the actual process, however….  Ech. Sometimes, especially towards the end of packing and sorting, I started to really wonder. I started to really look for that Abort Mission button and had to remind myself that not only did one not exist because I’d kind of committed and put down four digits worth of money already, but if I could and did abort, oh, would I ever regret it.

But sometimes…

I mentioned it before, but because of certain issues, I was forced to pare down my belongings to a pretty great degree. There were lots of reasons. One, the practical reason, was that in previous moves there had always been boxes of things that I never even opened. They’d literally been following me, sealed, from one apartment to another and just put into storage each time. It was the endless belief that honest, I’d need those useless items someday. They might come in handy! They were a weird sort of precious even though I never even looked at them or touched them or sometimes really knew what those boxes entirely contained.

If you find yourself with things like that, here’s a clue: you really don’t need them. You really won’t miss them. You already don’t miss them. Send them on their way.

And I did. That was the easy part. I really didn’t miss those things. I really honestly didn’t know what was in those boxes most of the time and I was a little stunned every time I opened them. And then I’d wonder why in the world I’d kept the contents, and go about getting rid of it all.

I tried my best to be a good recycler through this whole process and that gives me a little comfort. A whole lot of the useful things ended up at Value Village or donated to places where people who need them could get to them, especially in the beginning, and my old and outdated electronics found their way to the eco station in St. Albert for proper recycling. Smaller furniture found its way to new owners one way or another. The larger furniture that I just knew wouldn’t survive the trip, like my glass-top coffee table, a full length mirror, and a bentwood rocker that has Existed Always went to friends and family, but I got to see two of my old high school classmates in the process. One of them got a comic collection and the other took my old computer desk.

The next phase of paring down was because of moving space. I had ordered a 10′ BigSteelBox to contain all of my things, and I was absolutely determined that I wasn’t going to run into the last minute panic of trying to fit things in somehow. I wanted room at the end, and not to feel embarrassed by having too much junk.

So I cut down category by category, starting with what I thought would be the most painful bit: books.

I love my books. I grew up in a house where I was surrounded by them no matter what room I was in. Books in my bedroom, books in the living room, books in my dad’s studio and in the kitchen and, everywhere else that there was a shelf. They’re comforting to me, and, of course, a big inspiration for where I’ve been headed in life. I’m a writer, and I want to be an even more writerly writer than I am now. I want to be the writeriest writer who ever did write! I want to make books to comfort others with their presence and the door into escapism that they offer.

But alas, in this case, I couldn’t carry them all. In my last move, it became way too painfully obvious that I own too many bloody books and, as with the boxes in perpetual storage, there was a decent percentage that I knew I didn’t need and wouldn’t miss. Mostly those were outdated textbooks and weird things I’d picked up at cheap book sales by judging their covers (seriously, they’re not kidding, covers are such a crapshoot to judge by). After that I still had definitely too many, so I sighed and got tough.

– Could I not just replace it through Amazon or Chapters?
– Was I really and truly going to read it soon?
– Was it signed?
– Was it personalized by the author?
– Was it rare as heck?
– Was it just otherwise impossible/a pain in the butt to replace?
– Had I read it repeatedly until it was mostly dead and threatening to lose pages, therefore imbuing it with the Magic of a Well Loved Book?

Then it could stay.

That worked. I think that when I finally get my books unpacked, one of my big bookcases is going to be mostly empty and ready to be filled with new, fantastic things.

Again, I felt better because none of the books that I culled were thrown out. They all went on to new lives in new hands, and a whole bunch made it to library shelves, even. I did the same with every other category afterwards. Clothes! Kitchen stuff! Furniture! Bits and bobs and doodads! If I could re-home it, oh you bet that I did.

I think that’s what kills me, and maybe most people, about paring down. It’s the idea of throwing it away. That feels horrible. I’m forever remembered of this IKEA commercial and all of its inherent truth:

But they DO have feelings!

Okay yes, fine, I AM crazy.

Either way, that was the only thing that made me feel better throughout the entire process. I recycled things in ways where they’d continue to be used, wherever possible. I felt tremendous relief whenever I saw friends or family walk off with my furniture or when I was able to donate something that I knew would be used again.

And so I discovered that the real worst bit was at the end, and it was completely unexpected. I mean it. It started when my roommate and I ran out of time to recycle things and had to hope against hope that the Still Useful Things we placed beside the dumpster outside would be spotted by other building residents and made off with, hopefully to the tune of gleeful cackling from the new owner (so many things were taken, thank goodness). And then we got to the last days, when the remaining Not Useful Things just had to go.

And that was there I discovered The Worst Thing. My mom had given me a jar of pickles she’d made from cucumbers she’d grown in her garden, and I never would have expected that that would give me the biggest emotional breakdown out of everything I’d dealt with. But there we were, at nearly 2 AM with our flights out west looming and an apartment that needed to be scrubbed right now. There we were, cleaning out the fridge. And there were the pickles. In the midst of the months of chaos, I hadn’t had time to eat them. I had to throw them out. And especially realizing that I had no idea when I’d next be able to obtain a jar of my mom’s pickles, I just lost it. I dropped them in the garbage bag and then I just cried.


PICKLES, ferchristsakes.

Moving is stupid! Uprooting is dumb! Argh!

But somehow we got through it. Somehow it was all squared away, and finally, eventually, my roommate and I were sitting in a very empty, very echoey, very strange apartment with a couple of suitcases each and two very squirrelly cats who missed their scratching posts.

It still took me until just recently to stop feeling the effects of that purge.

If there was one unexpected bonus to the whole experience, it was that it actually made the flight seem like absolutely nothing.

And I hate flying.

One thought on “Flashback: Journey to the West: Part Two

  1. I’m backlogged on my reading here but I’ll have you know that during that chaos, you did really well through it all. And don’t forget, you gave a home to a precious item of mine that hurt me to have to leave but I know it’s in good hands. I’ve had that jester since I was ten and now I’m happy that he’s able to have a good, happy home with someone who loves the sound of it. <3

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