Elan Morgan is a writer and web designer who works from Elan.Works, a designer and editor at GenderAvenger, and a speaker who has spoken across North America. They believe in and work to grow both personal and professional quality, genuine community, and meaningful content online.

#491: PACKING, OR NOT, AND DOWNSIZING, OR TRYING TO

I have limited time today, so I am going to attempt another lunch hour entry. I have fifty-three minutes to get from one end of this post to the other and eat my microwaveable bowl of macaroni and cheese. I aim to shoot high, people.

It is the 14th of June, and I have not packed a single box yet for our move on July 1st. The Fiery One has made motions in that direction and packed some boxes of books. I initially felt pangs of guilt for my lassitude, but he seems to have run of out whatever packing steam he was working up, so I'm over it. I've almost accepted that I will once again be madly throwing random crap into boxes and loosely labelling them "living room/bed linens".

I keep envisioning packing up our apartment successfully. I imagine myself wrapping the dishes appropriately rather than throwing the laundry in with them that I was too lazy to finish. (I like to tell myself that I'm saving trees by doing that). I see myself actually going through my closet and drawers to weed out things I'm still wearing from twelve years ago, short shorts from a younger and less furry decade, and the sweaters that will require elbow patches if I wash them one more time. (But how can I lose the orange wool one from the summer of '95? I will probably still be wearing that thing in another eleven years, even if I have to stop washing it to preserve its cohesiveness).

I get filled with the what-ifs. I wonder if I will have the strength the get rid of my ice skates. I don't like skating, but someone might ask me to go to a rink with them, and then what would I do? What if we need that ugly sack one day with short handles that's filled with old file folders? What if I really need a pair of silver sneakers for a costume or something? (I don't even do costumes, but what if I decided to dress up as someone that did?) What if we have a dinner party and discover that we should have kept all four of our large salad bowls? And the four sets of mixing bowls in stainless steel, ceramic, glass, and plastic? What if we make friends with someone who is really short and regret getting rid of that three-quarter size chair that wobbles? What if I get rid of those three boxes of old, hole-riddled clothes and then there's some kind of war or pandemic, and I have no material with which to make blankets to shelter the destitute or to even cover our own shivering bodies?!

Obviously, I have some very serious decisions ahead of me.

When I imagine going through my things, I imagaine that I am cold to sentimental attachments. I toss out the old wooden box with broken hinges, the watch parts that we will never take in to the jeweller, our dead bird's cage, the corselet I wore at my wedding that tried to reign in the thirty pounds I had gained, all that weird crap in the desk drawers we never open, the dead plants, the broken magazine rack, the awkward end table that has followed me for seven years, the old coats that can no longer be mended, the bras that don't fit/never fit/seemed like a good idea at the time but turned out to have teeth, the bag of old nylons that I cannot even bear to touch, and the little jar of curry I that I don't even like that I have carried with me since 1998.

These things are ugly, and they serve no purpose anymore, and some of them even smell. I will purge them, though. I have to, because if that bag of old, unwashed nylons finds its way onto the handle of a closet door in our new apartment, I will have no choice but force myself into the world of therapy, which is a personal dread of mine.

I swear that I don't even like most of the things I keep dragging around with me, but when I stand with one of them in one hand and a trash bag in the other, it just seems wrong to toss it. For instance, that box with the broken hinges that never did close properly was hand-painted, and now that I've thought about it, I want to nail its base to the wall and put really tiny things in it. Because I really and truly need the world's smallest curio cabinet nailed to my wall. I DO. I am going to end up taking it to our new apartment and then in six months or two years I will wind up wondering what the hell I kept it for. Again.

I blame this mentality on my Mennonite upbringing. We saved everything. My mother saved balls of string and elastics, twenty-year-old pencils, empty milk cartons, styrofoam trays from supermarket meat, egg cartons, and tin pie plates and foil. We tied string to upended coffee cans to make stilts. Empty milk cartons were filled with soup, stapled shut, and put in the freezer. Baked potatoes were unwrapped carefully so that the tin foil could be smoothed out and stored in a drawer for later use. My parents were born during World War II, and it showed.

But fuck the back story to my problem. I still have too much stuff. It's not World War II, and I wasn't born until the early seventies. The box is broken, the nylons have been worn through, the bird is dead, and the chair is ridiculous. We don't need the awkward end table, the duct-taped futon frame, the eight-year-old can of P@m cooking spray, or the two-dollar garage-sale cabinet with plastic wheels and no doors.

What we do need is less crap to weigh down the friends we are going to guilt into helping us move.

I am not going to make any grand proclamations here, but I will say that I am at least going to try to unload one useless item every day, even if it's just that one sock with the hole in it that I keep pushing to the back of the drawer.

Here's to hoping.