Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Joy Of A Simplified Life

Whenever we move I realize just how much stuff we have. Granted I weed out and purge items both before packing and while unpacking yet our household items just seem to multiply on their own. By the time our next move comes around I feel as though I am back to square one. Will I ever learn?

But after each move we spend a few (or more) blissful weeks leading an uncluttered life. This is the time it takes for our unaccompanied baggage to catch up with us and it is during this time that I realize how little we really need to get by. I remember the feeling when we moved to Tirana. Prior to arriving there I was in a panic about how we would survive with only the items we could fit in our suitcase. How would I cook without my own knives or favorite cookware? How many times would I have to do laundry in order to keep us in clean clothes? How would we keep Sidney entertained? But you know what? We survived a very long six weeks just fine. Yes I did a lot of laundry and longed for a sharp knife but we wore clean clothes and ate just fine. When our unaccompanied baggage arrived (the day before our household goods, by the way) I felt overwhelmed by all of our "stuff". There was just so much of it, I had no idea where to store it, and in reality, we didn't need most of it. But I unpacked, put everything away and slipped back into our cluttered way of life. And now we are doing it all over again.

We've been living in a family suite in a hotel for over a week now. It is cramped and I am going stir crazy and am ready to leave but we are getting along just fine. Sure we are wearing and re-wearing the same clothes but I have a laundry room right down the hallway and daily maid service. The kitchen leaves everything to be desired but we've still been eating fairly well given the circumstances. Because our space is just so small, out of necessity we are forced to be neater than we ever have been. And it is actually kind of nice.

But that odd sense of serenity came to a crashing halt last week with the arrival of our unaccompanied baggage. We only used half of our weight allotment but looking at those five big boxes squeezed into our tiny hotel room just about gave me a panic attack. It was impossible to move around with the boxes in the room. Where were we going to put all of these things and did we even need them? As we set about opening them I realized that we really did not have the space of any of these items. The clothes? Our one closet and set of drawers were already filled with clothing. Without counter space there really wasn't any place to even put my salt and pepper grinders let alone space for my mixing bowls. My pans were too big for the burners and without an oven my baking sheets were obsolete.

One by one we opened the boxes and wondered what we had been thinking. We did pull out a few items--Sidney's books and a few toys, Glenn's uniforms, and my beloved knife set and soup pot. Everything else got put back into the boxes and pushed down the hallway to our storage cage. I actually felt a sense of relief when the boxes were out of sight. I managed to tuck away the few items we had taken out and gave Sidney a stern warning that all of his things needed to be kept neat and not underfoot. Momentarily, I felt better. But I realized that I had once again delayed the inevitable. We still had all of our "stuff" with more on the way. Once we move into a house the rest of our household goods that we had packed out from Albania would arrive. And later, all of our furniture, which has been sitting in storage in Virginia since 2011, will show up. And all of these items will need a home. Unpacking everything will become a brief, full time job. I will once again feel overwhelmed by all of our stuff, rue its existence, and wonder where it will all go. But then we will settle in and life will go on until we do it all over again.

But in the meantime, perhaps we will have a few more weeks (or more) of uncluttered freedom. I can't wait.

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