I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Moving thoughts

Just before sunrise at Lake Padden
Yesterday I began my day with the Saturday walk with the ladies at Lake Padden. Since the weather was nice (read: not raining), 23 of us made the trek twice around for more than five miles. Then it was a quick stop at the Farmers' Market for bread and home again. It was a perfect day for my friend Carol to begin the process of shipping her belongings to North Carolina. A couple of male friends, plus two or three of her neighbors, me included, started the process of moving her furniture and packing up much of her household items. She's leaving quite a bit of it behind and will have a sale sometime this coming week to get rid of what she's not taking with her.

It was tiring work and rather depressing to see Carol trying to decide what to keep and what to leave behind, but we made great progress. It also made me grateful to SG for not being a saver of stuff and someone who makes regular purges of unwanted household items. I tend to accumulate things I don't need and it's very inspiring to have someone around who is the opposite.

Carol also is using a different moving company than I'm used to: ABF Freight U-Pack. When I came home Friday, I saw a large trailer parked in front of the apartment complex and learned that it was for Carol's stuff and that she had until Monday to get it all packed up. It is much larger than what she needs, but she only pays for the space she uses and the rest of the truck is then packed with freight, not another household. I've always used U-Haul rental trucks and so was quite interested in learning how this system works. So far, it looks like a good way to manage a long-distance move and not have to drive it yourself. Carol says it's cheaper, too.

Helping someone sort through years of accumulated treasures along with no-longer-needed items is very enlightening, even if a little sad. Carol likes to keep everything, so there is a LOT to go through, making me think of moves that I've been involved with in the past. This is just a small two-bedroom apartment. It sparked memories of long-ago forgotten upheavals, a parent dying or a divorce, with the accompanying tearful wrenching disruption.

Just part of life, I guess. We all go through it, but some of us are better at it than others. Growing up with my father in the Air Force, we moved a lot, and I learned not to become too attached to things back then. There are some items that I carry with me from place to place, and just the presence of those things in my surroundings makes me feel better. I have a lamp on my bedside that I've had for five decades now, one that I bought with no sense that it would become a staple in my life. I've got piles of old photographs that cover decades, too, and although nowadays all of my latest pictures are digital, I cannot bring myself to get rid of any of the old ones. I did, however, years ago rid myself of all those negatives I carried around. Now I simply scan a picture and have plenty of copies if I want.

More than eight years ago, when I retired and we moved from Colorado to the Pacific Northwest, I got to see how an organized person does it. We had lived in the same apartment for fourteen years, and even though I didn't realize it, we had accumulated a lot of stuff we no longer needed. SG purged for months prior to the move, and by the time moving day came around, our pared-down belongings were manageable. With the help of some friends, we loaded up a U-Haul truck, which SG drove while I followed behind in the car, and we traveled over several days to our new home here in Bellingham. (He had come here months before, found our new apartment, and flown back to Colorado to make the trip here together.)

And now here we are, hopefully with no need to move again in the near future, coming up on nine years of life in Bellingham and a reminder from Carol to maybe think about a shedding of the old no-longer-needed items that surround me every day. Why not? It would probably feel really good to do that, and then I'll have that space to add even more stuff! I'm smiling but it's true.

People have so many different styles in the way we live our lives, and the bringing together of two fifty-year-olds when SG and I got married was quite a change for both of us. I'd lived alone for many years, as had he, but after the first difficult years, it never ceases to amaze me how well suited we are to each other, a quarter of a century later. We have had our ups and downs, but I cannot imagine my life without my partner, who complements me in ways I never even contemplated way back when. He says he's had to change the most, but I wonder if that's true. And really, who cares? We made the necessary adjustments and now we live together comfortably.

Which makes me look over at the other side of the bed and listen for his regular breathing, as he sleeps while I write, tapping away on my laptop. It's that time again: my post almost done, tea gone, and a sigh just escaped from my loved one, reassuring me that he's over there, if not asleep, content and probably reassured by the sounds emanating from this side of the bed, knowing all is well in our little corner of the universe.

I do hope that the coming week will bring you contentment and joy, as we move through the fall season toward the coming winter. The days are growing very short, and the nights longer in the Northern Hemisphere, but I am also reassured that spring is blossoming in all its glory in the Southern Hemisphere on our beautiful planet. The wheel turns, and I will finish with a Chinese proverb: "The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us." Be well until we meet again next week.


Red said...

Good morning DJan. I couldn't resist reading a 2 minute old post with a sharp title. "Downsizing" is always a topic here. . We've lived in this house since 1907 and one of us is a pack rat. We've got rid of lots of things but if we had to move tomorrow the challenge would be monumental. have a great and wonderful day.

The Broad said...

I so relate to this post! I've had a good excuse recently with the installation of a new kitchen for divesting the household of much that should have been got rid of years ago! But there is more, much more throughout the house.

Linda Reeder said...

I do think of downsizing. Some day we will have to. This place will be too much for us. But I have decided I am no where near ready to divest myself of my treasures. I just try not to add too much more these days.
We will be going into the city today, to the stadium, for the final soccer match of the regular season. By the end of today we will know if the Sounders will play post-season. There is both joy and sorrow in being a sports fan. The joy shown by the Cubs fans in Chicago last night was lovely to behold. Either way, we look at each game as entertainment, and take it as it comes. That should apply to our days too - plan ahead, but live each day fully, one at a time.
Happy week to you too!

Far Side of Fifty said...

I have been sorting through some old 'stuff" and will make the rounds again this winter and purge again. I think what you save is proportional to how much space you have...and we have a 1800 square foot house, way too big for two people, plus four outbuildings.
I know you will miss your friend Carol, happy trails to her! You are a doll to help her pack up:)

Tabor said...

While not in the military I have moved over a dozen times in my life and had to throw out stuff. I find, that like you, a few (well, maybe more than a few!) touchstones are the only essential parts of my life and along with photos I feel grounded even when the world around me spins. Those container shipping companies are very popular now and I see them in the city frequently.

Rian said...

Just wanted to mention one thing about your friend's moving - please tell her to keep anything that may be especially important to her within her own sight. I only say this because we lost my deceased father's stamp collection that he started when he was a boy in London in the early 1900's on one of our moves. Don't know if it was thrown out by accident or if it was taken, but it was a hard loss for me.
And I agree that sorting and getting rid of accumulations of 'stuff' is important. I am trying hard to do this, but do find it difficult. However, we have been in this house for over 30 years and it is necessary. Having had to go through this ourselves when family/friends have departed, I would like to make the process easier for all when the time comes... and I have to admit, there's a lot of junk among the treasures.

Stella Jones said...

Interesting to read about your neighbour packing up, just as I have new neighbours arriving next door. As we get older we have many accumulated memories, both in our minds and in our cupboards. I find it very hard to part with those things which mean so much to me. What your friend probably doesn't realise is how much you are going through it with her.

Elephant's Child said...

A beautiful post to read as the sun thinks about getting up here.
I share my home/life/heart with a pack rat.
And cringe at the thought of the ultimate clean-up.
Sadly my books mean I am not much better. A work in progress.
Have a wonderful, exercise, joy filled week.

Marie Smith said...

Much food for thought. I would like to downsize but my husband isn't ready for it yet. He still accumulating things which I understand but don't do much of. I would like a small place to rent, no upkeep, just the necessities. He may eventually be ready for that too. I'd like to chose to do it rather than have to...you know.

Arkansas Patti said...

A true friend is one that doesn't have something else to do when you have to move. Way to go Djan. If nothing else, helping another move makes us realize that purging is a good thing.
Smiled that SG was listening to you hit the keyboard. I always wondered if he really slept through or if he also got pleasure and comfort out of your Sunday morning routine.

Meryl Baer said...

I understand your feeling about stuff. We have lived six years in our current home. We downsized considerably, but now it seems stuff is everywhere. I feel the need to purge again. It amazes me how fast things accumulate.

Gigi said...

This post reminds me of our cross country move...with a toddler! Yikes, I wouldn't want to do THAT again. We have purged and purged prior to our past two moves but still have SO.MUCH.STUFF! Particularly The Husband who likes to keep things because "you never know if you are going to need it." Well, I KNOW for a fact that 99.9% of the things he keeps we will never need.

Have a wonderful week my friend.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, Sure enjoyed the post today. Your move from Colorado sounds so well organized and SG sure went the extra mile to find your place in Bellingham then fly back to be with you for the actual move. My wife and I had to move from downtown Seattle a little over a year ago because our apartment down there was to be remodeled and all residents in the building had to move out during the remodel. I sort of approached it like SG with a methodical sorting out of things and letting things go. Downsizing as we get older just makes a lot of sense. I hated the move at the time but feel much better now, knowing that the next one will be easier. I hope Carol will be happy in her new location and bet she won’t miss the stuff she doesn’t take with her. Take care, be well, and have a fine week ahead!

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Hmm, this post is going to prompt me to start weeding out stuff in my closet, the attic, cabinets and drawers and all the other places where accumulated stuff hides!

The Furry Gnome said...

Thanks for your best wishes as always. I must be like Carol, far too many things I hesitate to get rid of. Good enough that I don't want to take them to the dump, and therefore harder to get rid of. Our daughter used a system like Carol is when she moved to B.C., a shipping container on their drive that they packed up over two weeks. Then they had to camp in the new house until the shippers got there 2 weeks later!

Linda Myers said...

Such comfort I get from reading your down-to-earth, grateful Sunday post.

Anonymous said...

I think it is wonderful that you have such a comfortable relationship with your husband.

Rita said...

I spent almost three months downsizing before I moved here. But with all the art and craft supplies I have I still had a ton of stuff to move--LOL! People who have known me all my life can attest to the fact that there is not really any blank space at Rita's. I have usually lived in smaller spaces and utilize them to the max. ;) I prefer to think of it as cozy--surrounded by things I love and enjoy. No room for a spouse here--ROFL!! Have a super week. I LOVE the proverb!!! :)

Anonymous said...

Sounds that you had a wonderful time:)

C-ingspots said...

I always seem to relax when I read your posts. In person, I would bet that you have that effect on people. How nice. I'm sorry your friend is moving away, knowing that you'll miss her. I hope you can stay in contact and maintain your friendship in that way.

Your walk around the lake sounds lovely. We had a nice weather weekend as well. (read not raining) :)
We loaded a cord of firewood into our wood shed, cleaned our home, did laundry, went out for breakfast, did the chores (daily) and I cooked a pot of chili and made some cornbread. Not very exciting, but overall it was nice and comforting.

In the back of my mind, I'm always daydreaming about moving to central Oregon, or somewhere to a drier climate. I enjoy the rain, but when we get so much, it limits our outside and active time too much for my preference. For some reason, it remains only a dream...I'm never sure why we don't just move. It bothers me that I'm too complacent to accept some risk and possibly love a different environment. Maybe I'm postponing the gigantic purge that would be coming...?

Carole said...

Oh I love what you said about moments of happiness seizing us! So true. Your posts always inspire me, and , they create a moment of happiness :-)

Thanks for another beautiful post. I so look forward to your Sunday morning posts. Sending love and hugs.

Sally Wessely said...

I love the Chinese proverb at the end. I guess I had a bit of an epiphany while reading this post. You and SG have it all figured out. The one next to you in bed is what is important in this life. Things you brought into this relationship are not important. Those things will never sigh beside you. I doubt you will sigh next them either. Isn't it great that we are moving into that time when we have longer nights? That means more time spent next to the love beside us.

I hope I never have to move again. It is so traumatic. Purging stuff is good, but it is hard. Best to your friend...

Deb Shucka said...

Catching up on your recent posts, I see a theme. You seem contented and serene, and yet very alive and present. I hope your writing is going well and that you continue to share the light and blessings that surround you.

Barb said...

Bob and I have definitely purged belongings over the last couple years. We're trying to streamline and organize a bit more in our 70‘s. We'd prefer our kids don't have so much to go through when we're gone. Funny how some things from the past have a hold on us and become talismans we can't give up even when we're not sure why.

Glenda Beall said...

Your thoughts about your husband as you write fills me with nostalgia. I had that kind of relationship and I miss it so much. Two of my older friends moved recently. Not far from where they lived, but to a smaller and more manageable place. It almost killed him, I think. He lost weight and looks so tired. She gained weight as women often do when under stress. I hope this winter to begin a large process of de-cluttering my place. I decided not to move at this time, but try to make my home work better for me as I grow older. I don't think I'd make it through another move. Just too hard to do.
I love your Sunday posts. Didn't get here last Sunday, but I always try to read your blog.
Have a great week.