This is kind of a follow up post to my previous natter about moving away which you can find here. I’m flying tomorrow, so I spent the day today trying to pack up everything I want and need for the next year of my life into 38 kilograms of stuff. I learnt a few things.
I . I really do not need most of the stuff I own
This isn’t news; most of us (especially those who have moved, do the bi-yearly trips to and from uni or move regularly between homes) are aware that we own a lot of unnecessary shit. I found it difficult to pack everything up, but it wasn’t impossible. And my room in my parents’ home is still full of stuff. If you didn’t know I’d moved away, you’d probably just presume I have an interesting taste in possessions.
The experience has made me want to reassess how much I buy into capitalist schemes, patriarchal norms and western ideas in my acquisition of stuff and how much it affects my outlook, effect on the planet and general well-being. I’d like to own a lot less than I do, because I feel like unnecessary possessions distract me from what is actually important (cliché but again, true). I’m tempted to tell my parents that they are free to donate, exchange, recycle or dump everything left in my room apart from the books and suitcase of memories.
II. Some small things can mean a lot more than they seem
They may be small, but there are some things in my case that together would give me a little leeway weight-wise, but I would never remove. There’s a tiny polaroid picture, a dream catcher, a rainbow maker, printed pictures and pages out of newspapers. These little things will help me stay connected to home and the people there, the life I’ve lead that has brought me to make the decision to take a year out and what I want to do and achieve while I’m away.
III. Even though I’m barely able to stand on it, my board is staying in
When my family were asking me why I couldn’t take the skateboard out, even though it would give me the extra weight I thought I needed, I realised that it’s one of the most important items in my case. I answered, surprising myself, that I needed the board not only because I’d spent way too much money on it to leave it unused for a year, but that it had another significance for me.
I have an embarrassing tendency to say I will and begin to and invest in mastering new skills, but never follow through. I have a gorgeous but basically decorative acoustic guitar, unused language learning app and a dusty DSLR to prove it. I’m ashamed by how lazy I am when it comes to acquiring new skills off my own back. I know I am capable of learning something new – my barista title is something I remind myself of every day. But I need to have more than one title or t-shirt or scar or tongue to feel like I’ve actually done something with my life. The board is my reminder of that.
IV. Books are important
Again, not really news to many of you, but my commitment to my collection surprises me every time it is brought under scrutiny. Currently in my collections of cases I have eight books. That’s an incredibly cut down version of the books I was planning to take. There’s a pile of about nine others placed dejected on my desk in my parent’s house. When my mum was going through the things I’d packed with me, the books were the items most regularly questioned, which is logical because there were a lot, and they weigh a lot.
I’m surprised by the amount of books I have actually managed to leave behind. Because, yes, although I could find a lot of the classics online, or buy new books in Cape Town, or maybe not take four books about how to Live Well and be Happy, I wanted to take them all. The books I have reread countless times make me feel safe, grounded and comfortably nostalgic, and I actually do want to Live Well and be Happy, so I felt like all the books on the topic were necessary and even though I can get The Great Gatsby, On The Shortness of Life and One Hundred Years of Solitude online, I have not yet bought a kindle for a reason. I am a clichéd book reader; half of the experience really is about holding the book in my hands, seeing the cover when I carry it around and the smell and feeling of the physical pages. Even though it almost meant only coming with one pair of shoes, I wasn’t willing to totally give that up.
V. I’m lucky
My parents still live at home. Even though a lot of my stuff had to be left behind, it isn’t gone from my possession forever; I will get it back when I get back.
I have a lot of stuff to choose from. That says it all really. That’s pretty cool. And not the case for everyone moving abroad at 20 years old.
I have a luggage allowance. Refugees and asylum seekers and anyone else who needs to get out, get away and be gone, quick, doesn’t have time to choose between their stuff like I did. Or the resources to take almost 40kg with them. Or a place to leave things that they cannot take behind.
I am very lucky to be moving to such an incredible place and for my “lot of unnecessary shit” to be a problem.