Back to the Year of Living with Less. You know what? I have very little to report. What we have given up: space, a dishwasher, a microwave, control of the thermostat, cable TV, a land line, a fenced yard and the ability to properly check the weather without walking up a flight of stairs. Boo hoo. It's simply not that dramatic. The two (three?) flooding incidents that first week were the worst of it so far. Knock on wood.
It's a pain to deal with the dog when Grace is here, but when Grace is at school, Brady gets long walks, rain or shine. We both needed that. It's become more difficult to have friends over, particularly Grace's friends, because there isn't much room to run around. But Grace has the biggest room in the place, and soon I will convince her that it's much more fun to play in her room with her toys than to pepper the adults with questions like, "What are you drinking? What's your favorite color? Do you toot a lot?"
More than anything else, I'm struggling with unpacking. There is space here for most of the belongings I chose to keep. (The thirteen boxes of books have me stymied, since in the past I've hung bookshelves, which I've decided not to do here because I'm tired of doing it over and over. There's no room for a massive bookcase, so for now they are in my closet, where my clothes should be.) My ambivalence has more to do with the notion of actually settling in here, and what it means in the grand scheme of my life. We've moved six times in the last five years; we will probably move again when this lease is up. I'm tired of packing and unpacking, and we seem to be getting along fine with the basics. Why bother finding a place for things we don't need? But that leaves me feeling unsettled, as if this is not a home as much as a pit stop on the way to my real life. That feeling is getting old, fast.
When I open a box full of vases, all I can think is, "Why the hell do I have so many vases?" It will be a long time before I buy another candle or a box of fancy soap. I have a ridiculous collection of kitchen utensils from my previous life of cooking (as a hobby!) and entertaining frequently. Since I've gotten into the habit of eating practically the same thing every day so that I don't have to put much thought into my meals (it's enough trying to get Grace to eat a healthy diet), I really don't need that giant roasting pan, or a kitchen scale, or separate little scrubby brushes for corn, potatoes and mushrooms. I have a huge box of barware that hasn't been opened since John and I moved out of our first house. Wine glasses, champagne flutes, pilsners, water goblets and who knows what else. I know I won't bother to unpack this. I just need to hide the box.
Today I'm going to take the plunge and haul everything out of the laundry room into the apartment and decide what to unpack; the rest I will probably get rid of. Just like a closet full of clothes that don't get worn, I have a surfeit of things that don't get used or appreciated. They are weighing me down, and I doubt they will be missed. Wish me luck.
(As far as dishpan hands are concerned, I'm lucky to be washing my dishes in a sink rather than in a filthy river in which someone upstream is peeing. And it's a little slice of me time that I'm beginning to enjoy.)