The more you move your stuff, the more it turns into junk from being lifted, banged into doorways, and jostled in a truck. Scratches, dents, loosened joints, dust and smudges on upholstery and rugs. And the more we move our stuff, the more we fall apart too: sore backs, bruised hands, and strains that seem to take much too long to heal at our age. Ice packs, ibuprofen, heating pads, and miracle creams will all be dragged out after a day of moving.
Some people hire movers but I’ve never had that luxury. I hear they box everything up, load it, drive it and then unload it at your destination. In the blink of an eye, your worldly goods are gone and then reappear. All you have to do is write a check and then unbox things and put them away.
For me, for us, we are still healthy enough to do it ourselves. And we’re frugral. We think of what we could do with the thousands of dollars that would go to a mover, and then we start collecting boxes from the liquor store and getting ready to tackle the job. I do most of the packing and unpacking, and my husband does most of the heavy lifting. Right now, we don’t own anything that the two of us can’t move, even given that one of us can’t seem to get a good grip on heavy things.
I’ve been on a minimalist path for several years. Our things, my things, are down to the essence. They are the things that make life easier and are used every day like our beautiful glass electric kettle, well-seasoned cast iron skillets, a roasting sheet that started its life as a metal cafeteria tray, and cookware that my mother bought in the 1960s. They knew how to make pots and pans back then as evidenced by me using pans every day that are as old as I am. Sure, the handles get loose once in a while and I have to pull out a screwdriver to tighten them. But that seems like a minor ailment for pots over 50 years old. My hand-crank pasta maker and rosamorada rolling pin are coming along, even though the KitchenAid stand mixer and food processor were sold.
What else has made the cut? Art that we have purchased on our travels or from local folks. Clothing and shoes. Some colorful vintage serving platters and vases. Proper Oregon Pinot Noir wine glasses, made by Riedel. Oregon Pinot Noir might be hard to come by here, but when it comes, we’re ready. Silver-plated flatware that belong to an aunt and was kept cradled in a wooden box until I decided it should be used every day. Apart from kitchen things and art, we have boxes of love-letters from our long-distance courtship, a shelf of well-loved books, a folder of recipes, decent hand tools, and a rocking chair once owned by my paternal grandfather, who died before I was born. Its joints were already a bit loosey goosey and I’m thinking it may need a bit of tightening after the final few thousand miles of jostling.
What’s left makes me realize who I am and what is important: cooking in my kitchen with practical well-loved implements; beautiful art, be it a painting or a platter; and memories. These are the essence of what’s left and they tell you about my essence. They tell you that I make homemade pasta and I can do it without plugging in an appliance. They tell you I savor a glass of wine. They tell you I love to look at beautiful things and enjoy the memories of where and when they were purchased. They tell you that I cherish my history, and like to think about my deceased parents and my immigrant grandparents. I’ve sold and donated a lot of their things so what remains is more important, makes life more sweet and more clearly focused.
I’m down to this essence of me. And getting ready to furnish a house. Yes, we need beds, nightstands, lamps, tables and chairs. We need couches, wastebaskets, soap holders, and appliances. We will select those things with care and hopefully won’t bring in anything that is not of our essence. We will have only the things that are us.