Moving: The Pain of Owning Stuff

So much is exciting about moving to a new location.  There are new living spaces to decorate, new restaurants to sample, and new hikes, runs, and rides to reconnoiter.  It’s a clean slate, it’s starting fresh, it’s a new beginning.  Or is it?

When we moved to Germany, we only brought with us five suitcases.  Of course we had to buy furniture, a person must sleep on something besides the floor.  And we had to buy things used to cook and eat with.  But these are all things we could easily dispose of in case of a quick exit.  Over the years however we took empty suitcases to the US and brought them back full of our favorite things:  artwork, cookbooks, books.  An English teacher cannot be separated from her Norton Anthologies for too long or she loses her special powers.

Our crazy assortment of of stuff.

Our crazy assortment of of stuff.

Yet somehow those five suitcases multiplied into a crazy assortment of clothes, appliances, housewares, paintings, furniture, toys, books, and stuffed animals.  We were always careful not to accumulate vast amounts of things, after all, you can only fit so much into an 80 sq meter apartment with very little storage space.  So how did this happen?

By moving you become acutely aware of how much stuff you actually have.  When you are packing it, you desperately look for things you can leave behind.  And when you are unpacking it, you chastise yourself for not throwing away more.  I think the kitchen closet box will be the last to be unpacked.  Why in the world did we keep every power cord, cable, empty Fleischsalat tubby? Well we might discover later, that those things come in handy.

Then there is the problem with where do you put things.  Your things fit perfectly into the crevices of your old residence.  Now that you are in the new place, you have to find a new nook or cranny to fit your stuff.  And as you know, once you put something somewhere, it must stay there.  Otherwise you will forever go back to that first place where you put it, only to find that you put it somewhere else.

Although this apartment has a huge amount of storage space, most of it is in hanging closet form.  You would think the designers of this apartment thought that the residents would want to get dressed in the hallway every morning.  The bidet is in one bathroom with the shower, but the toilet is down the hall in a different bathroom.  So if I am in need of the bidet, I must walk with my trousers around my ankles, down the hallway and around the corner, to get my backside all tidied up.  The one butt kitchen will also be hard to get used to, but this will keep me out of the kitchen and out of my husband’s way.

The moral of this story is of course…don’t buy stuff!  And if you do buy stuff, you must be willing to take on the responsibility of owning said stuff.  You will at sometime in the future have to:

-sell it

-throw it away

-pack it

-carry it

-load it

-haul it

-unpack it

-decide where it goes

Or even possibly:

-go to Ikea to buy more stuff to put all of your stuff in


2 replies

  1. The acquisition and defenestration of Stuff is a constant concern for me. Before I moved to Germany, I had a two bedroom condo full of Stuff. I offloaded most of that over the first year I was here. Now everything I own is in a 5×5 storage unit back in Florida or in my 45 square meter apartment here. (Well, there’s a bicycle outside of the apartment, but that barely counts.)

    It’s still too much. When I leave Germany, I’ll have to find new homes for almost everything- the washer and the television won’t work properly in the US. The vacuum has the wrong plugs. I’ll probably go back to the US with barely more stuff than I arrived with.

    I’m ok with that.

    • We know we will be moving within our new town in the next two years, so we will be keenly aware of accumulating any more stuff. But wow, what a change from the first move here. Within days we had an apartment that felt like home, instead of a vast white space with an IKEA sofa, beds and a kitchen table.

      So it is good to have stuff, it grounds us in our ever changing environments, but this stuff is also very heavy and weighs us down.

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