The Pack-up

When you’re moving, packing always starts with the best intentions. How hard could it be? You get some boxes, put things in the boxes, and you’re done. Easy, right? Wrong. Packing up a house is infinitely more difficult when you’re still living in it, and when you have two kids who treat the full boxes like a fun new playground. Why are they tap-dancing on the box of antique dishware? Why are they eating the packing peanuts? Does any of that matter if it means they’re not crying?

The sheer amount of STUFF you accumulate as a family is staggering. The keepsakes, mementos, and precious items slowly build up in your closets, covered in dust and whispers of the past. Here is your daughter’s favorite stuffed cat, the one she carried everywhere. Here is your son’s tiny little hat that he wore home from the hospital. All these touchstones that are so important to us are now being stuffed into a bulging box that refuses to close because you can’t find the #$%&*! tape gun.

So many questions come up as you’re sifting through your things. Questions like:

  • Why do I have three melon ballers? I don’t even like melons.
  • Why do I have six half-empty bottles of conditioner under the bathroom sink?
  • Why did I buy a fuzzy grey sponge – oh god, it’s MOVING.

There are things that I’ve kept for years that I have no intention of getting rid of. I don’t use them, I don’t need them, but I absolutely refuse to part with them. Do I ever use that old popcorn maker? No, but I might. Do I ever wear this frosty blue eyeshadow? No, but I might. Do I really need this box of industrial staples? No, but I might. I’ve ended up keeping so many things just in case that my closets and drawers are stuffed to the brim. And since we’re moving, I’m currently sweating and cramming all those importantly unimportant items into boxes.

I’m lucky to have so much stuff, I realize that. I inherited a lot of things from my parents; things that were headed for the trash can; old pictures of forgotten places, scribbled shopping lists, address books full of phone numbers that no longer work. Everything is a link to the past, a link to the person I used to be. I found some letters my grandmother wrote to my mom – beautiful letters on paper as thin as tissue; letters from a mother fretting about her daughter; letters frozen in time from a woman who’s long gone. How lucky I am.

I also gave away two of the three melon ballers, but I’ll keep one, just in case.