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In the chrysalis

August 15, 2012

Two weeks.  We have two weeks left in this house that we’ve lived in for ten and a half years. We’re feeling a little nostalgic, but not as much as one might expect.  Mr. Spy and I were talking about who we felt we needed to say goodbye to before we left and the list was very short. While we’ve met a lot of nice people here, we haven’t made many friends.  By contrast, when we discussed whom we wanted to invite over once we got to New York, we came up with about 50 people right off the bat.  So maybe we’ll be more social in New York

But we’re also trying to spend some time on the things that we love about this place, the things that made us move here in the first place.  On Monday, I went for a four mile walk in my favorite cornfield and saw not a soul.  The corn is funny looking this year.  Normally thick and tall by August, it’s not even up to my shoulder in most places with few ears. The soybeans opposite are even worse, knee-high and spindly.  But it’s still beautiful.  The edge of the field is lined with Queen Anne’s lace, chickory and goldenrod. The sky from the middle is enormous.

On Monday night, AJ and I pitched a tent in the wooded part of our yard.  We dragged out our sleeping bags and some things to do and lay there playing Apples to Apples as we heard the deer thundering by along the stream bed.  We read “The Monkey’s Paw” by flashlight and went to bed with our sweatshirt hoods up against the autumnal chill.

Yesterday, I cut through the fence to the park next to our neighborhood and walked across the prairie to the river, where I left a trail of wet footprints in the narrow strip of sand as far as I could go before the fallen trees completely blocked my way.

We’re also making plans for things we want to do in our new city.  AJ and I want to go to Coney Island.  I want Mr. Spy to see the Botanic Garden.  Mr. Spy wants to see Revolutionary War battle sights near our new apartment. 

But increasingly, what is taking over is not so much migration as metamorphosis.  We’re moving from a three-bedroom/three bath house on nearly an acre of land to a 750 square foot fourth-floor walk-up. This goes beyond packing and purging. This requires an entirely new mindset. 

Blogging, for me, at least, has a tendency to make you think of your life as a story, something with a defined narrative or focus.  Life, of course, is not nearly that neat and tidy.  But when I sit down to write about our move, what coalesces as the central problem to be solved is this:  How do three introverts used to retreating to their separate nether-regions of the house learn to coexist?  In my head, we are, apparently, the stars of our own reality show.

The amount of stuff we need to leave behind exceeds the amount of stuff we will keep.  I find the big things easy to lose.  The sofa I bought when AJ was 2 so we could sit together in the family room. The futon bed where our guests have slept.  The desk that used to be my father’s.  A car or two. The little stuff is hard.  I don’t like giving away my books, even after seeing how happy it makes the ladies at the public library where we have been donating them, a few hundred at a time. We have too many pictures, particularly for an apartment that is mostly windows, but I can’t seem to figure out which ones to leave behind.  To say nothing of the gifts from friends and family that we keep to remember them by but seldom use. 

Our goal is to have only things we both love and use, to not have anything that is simply taking up space.  In a house with storage, you tend to hold onto things in case of eventualities.  Someday I might need this.  You also tend to keep things around that you don’t use very often, like the giant roasting pan I only use on Thanksgiving.  Some of these things will be left behind.  I don’t even know if that roasting pan will fit in my new oven. Others will come along, like the tent that still stands in the woods.  Who knows? We might pitch it on our new roof someday and sleep where there are not as many stars to see as here, but there are the lights twinkling around the park and from the spires of Manhattan. 

 

 

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. August 15, 2012 8:52 am

    This is lovely and brave. Thank you for sharing the journey with us.

  2. eleanorio permalink
    August 15, 2012 9:51 am

    If I may make a suggestion about the pictures: Take them all. The ones you can’t put up immediately can be stored with economy of space in the back of a closet, and when you get tired of the ones on the walls, or realize that you aren’t actually seeing them anymore, put them away and take out the spares. I would find it hard to part with the desk, personally.

  3. August 15, 2012 9:56 am

    I realized when I wrote about the desk that it made it sound like a lovely antique. It’s actually just a computer desk that he bought after I moved out of the house. He gave it to me when they moved and it’s served me well, but I have no particular nostalgia attached to it. I think the pictures, however, are probably going. We figure at worst we’d have to rent a small storage space for our overflow.

  4. August 15, 2012 10:21 am

    As someone who was just forced to purge a lot of stuff, I have to say that it was almost unbearably hard at the time but now it’s really nice to have less clutter. We didn’t need a lot of that furniture and all those toys, but that’s hard to see until you stand back. Just take deep breaths and keep jumping in.

  5. August 15, 2012 11:30 am

    Mr. Spy can talk about Major Andre with my husband. 🙂

    Letting go of stuff can be hard – but you seem way level-headed about it.

  6. Sarah Patterson permalink
    August 15, 2012 11:43 am

    When we downsized, we gave some of our wall art to friends. It is nice to know they think of us when they look at it.

  7. August 15, 2012 4:31 pm

    I have a book (not that you need another book!) about living small. It suggests things like making sure each of you still has a retreat. You could loft AJ’s bed, put a chair with swivel bottom in the social space so it can face a group or away toward a window, and have your bedroom for the 3rd person. And I really did like that book-chair!

  8. August 16, 2012 1:55 pm

    (hugs) Those of us who still have an abundance of clutter in the form of books are grateful for your purge.

  9. August 17, 2012 7:57 am

    Thanks, Joy!
    Eleanorio, we will take more than we can hang, but probably not all of them. There are some that have never found a place on our walls and there’s probably a reason for that. Mrs. Patterson, that’s actually a great idea. In general, we’re finding it’s easier to get rid of things when we know they’re going to a good home. Our library, which we never thought we’d get rid of (we’re keeping some; we’re not made of stone), is going to our local public library and an area Buddhist temple, which just moved into a new building and is holding a book sale in a few weeks to raise money for its outreach programming. Clothes and small household things are going to a shelter for battered women and children. We’re giving plants, yard equipment and some furniture to friends. We are selling very little: one or possibly both of our cars, a couple of the bigger, nicer pieces of furniture. Anyone want anything? Come on over!

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