Lighten the Load
We are finally here! We made the “big jump” in late April. We had originally planned to make our move in early 2015. We put that on hold, as I explained in an article called “Implement Plan B”. From there, we rescheduled for the following winter. But we were delayed by a series of stateside family medical issues. All of those are resolved now, so we’re moving forward again. We have delayed so often now, that I’ve been reluctant to publicize a departure date for fear of jinxing it. For all of that, our situation has begun to realign. Family health issues are on an even keel. Our son has accepted a new teaching position with an international school in Japan.
Even before the delays, we were preparing for the move. Mostly by downsizing almost everything. First, we moved from our house in the ‘burbs to an apartment. Like many before us, we discovered just how much stuff we had accumulated. Most of it had to be disposed of in some way or another. For that, we traveled the usual route of yard sales, donations to second hand shops, and actually throwing things out. A great deal of our stuff, it turned out, was old papers. Ancient school work, odds and ends of stuff that seemed important at the time, but hadn’t been looked at since. All of that went into the trash, save for the odd diploma and such. Twenty odd years after my military retirement I still had stacks of papers from my Army career. Multiple copies of orders transferring me from one duty station to another, promotion orders, awards, leave orders. I even found my old draft card. The Army had conveniently consolidated all of that information onto one document when I retired, so all of that paper could go. The hitch was that nearly every page had my social security number on it. Every scrap had to be shredded before I could throw it out.
Another thing I noticed was how attached we had become to some things. Early in our marriage we had made the decision to buy only quality household goods. Even in our smallish living quarters in Germany, Marlyn was looking ahead to furnishing her future dream house. Our lovely furniture was durable, but bulky. Too bulky to ship to the Philippines. Especially with no dream house in place yet. Due to Marlyn’s attachment to it we missed an opportunity or two for selling it in complete sets. Waiting till the last minute meant that much of it was sold or given away piece by piece. She was able to keep anything that fit into the trusty balikbayan box. Her good German china and crystal, her high end cookware, and of course the chandelier of Bohemian crystal. All of the things vitally important to her love of cooking and entertaining.
For myself, I had been involved in the field of living history for decades, both as a hobby and professionally. I had a large collection of specialty clothing and weaponry that I was rather attached to. It took a while for it to sink in, but I finally realized that I would never need this stuff again. After that, it was fairly simple to dispose of it. My library, however…… That was a different story altogether.
Reading has been an important part of my life since childhood. I grew up in a house full of books. As my siblings and I grew up and left home, we carried our favorites with us, and added to them over a lifetime of learning. Nearly half of my books were older than I am, and showed the wear. I couldn’t justify the space they would occupy in a climate that would destroy them in a short time. Still, I hated to part with them.
It actually took me longer than it should have to come to a workable solution. But after much sentimental delay, I hit on a plan. Instead of worrying over which ones I would leave behind, I approached it from another angle. I asked myself which ones I absolutely had to have. At first it was easy. All my reference books on livestock and farm management went into the keep box. Then came books on the Philippines. Language, culture, history, wildlife, all stayed. After that, I began to struggle.
It was a long drawn out process to decide what to do with them. In the end, I allowed myself one book from those I’d had since childhood. I decided on “Swiftwater” by Paul Annixter. A reminder of a way of life I admire and aspire to.
It still took a while to dispose of the rest. Used book stores did not want to buy them. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to throw them out. Some of them found homes with friends of like interests, and family. The rest I finally donated to the used book shop and thrift stores.
We made a few last runs to the LBC warehouse. We attended a round of going away parties with family, workmates, and horseback riding companions. Then, at last, it was down to sleeping on mats and eating out with gift cards saved from last Christmas. It was time to pack the suitcases and move!