childhood

Letting Go of Things as you Move On: How do you Choose?

Letting Go of Things as you Move On: How do you Choose?

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I have now started in earnest to pack my suitcase and some boxes for my move back out to California. I move in a week and a half but I have known of this move for two months now. I just have been busy on my last hurrahs at my current workplace-soon to be ex-workplace. I am leaving on an extremely high note having published a big report that I hope will have an impact on the lives of marginalized communities in the Deep South. I am proud of the work and now I can be mentally free. Sure, I have a transition plan to write up for the “new me” but, seriously, will she or he even read it. i am hoping it will be a she since I am only one of five women in that workplace. With me gone, they are down to four and none in really high positions. Not my problem anymore. Whew! That feels good to say and write out!

Anyway, I have packed up my office slowly. I still have several suitcases worth of items to bring home. I already brought home several gala gowns, over 50 pairs of shoes, 10 pieces of artwork and my family photographs that dotted my mantels. I knew I wanted to bring those things home. I did, for the record, throw out 6 pairs of shoes. Now, I look around and wonder what is left. Do I bring home papers that I may look at one day just to refresh my memory on certain procedures? Do I bring home the academic journals I have collected and subscribed to throughout the years?

I have always had a hard time of lettings things go. see, I lost almost everything I owned at the age of 17. At teh age of 5, our house was burnt down deliberately and we lost everything then. However, I wasn’t really wedded to what we had at that time. i don’t remember anything from that time other than the fire. Losing everything at 17, that still burns and burns deeply within. I am not a hoarder. i can throw out newspapers and garbage. However, I develop deep feelings of sentimentality with many things. My son’s first pair of shoes are something I could never throw out. I kept them with me at work, right near my desk where I could see them everyday so that I would have a beautiful reminder of the fragility and, beauty and quickness of life.I also kept with me at work his first sippy cup which had a pirate emblem on it. When I needed a pick-me-up, I would look at that and remember his little face covered in juice. Nothing more precious than that.

I now look around me at home and wonder do I need four nutcrackers? Do I need a cherry pit remover? Well, the answer to that is easy. No, I do not need it. Its still in its original casing. But it is cute! It will probably come with me at some point.

In teh moment of a fire, you take the most precious things you can find. Photo albums, artwork, important papers that are stored in a lockbox.  Of course, now, many people just store photos on a computer and then those will be lost unless you store them on a cloud server. Imagining what you would want to pack quickly with you as you run out of a house fire tells you what is most important at that moment.  However,  it does not tell you the whole story about yourself. When I was 17, there is no way I would have run out of a house fire with my trophies and medals. However, I sure do wish I now had them. I do have the first Spanish/English dictionary my mother bought me. I have it sitting right up front of my bookshelf so that i can always remember the sacrifices my mother made.

Today, I am packing and transferring accounts and email addresses. I leave a bit of myself and legacy behind. Luckily, I get to take my son’s sippy cup, his drawings where he makes me look like a cross between a dolphin and mordecai (from the cartoon) and frankly, whatever else I want to take with me.

I will leave my manifesto buried deep in some work drawer for the next me to decipher along with a bottle of whiskey and a note saying “you can get through this.”

It’s friday. back to packing I go!

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20 replies »

  1. How long will you be out in Cali? I have a bowl that changes color when heated fluid is put in it. My oldest boy loved that as a toddler. I’ll keep that one forever. The nutcrackers? Yes, we have stuff like that, too. It just piles up.

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  2. I’m just the opposite, Mimi. I love clearing out the drawers and closets of things I really don’t need, and those that I know my family won’t want when I’m gone. Goodwill and consignment shop are getting the items that have some value. I’ve done that many times in my life, as I moved from place to place. But, then, the years go by, and I’ve accumulated more “things.” And so it goes. Wishing you a welcome change, and a safe travel. 🙂

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  3. I’m kind of the opposite. Things I have a lot of sentimental attachment to, I hold onto yes. But other than that, I’m more of a minimalist. I’m always on the hunt for what can be tossed.

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  4. For me, the things are generally just so much crap, but everybody’s different. As far as anything that might be work or textbook related, I have just held on to things that I thought showed off my skills, and I have found that anything that might have been taught has changed so much since I learned it e.g. theories, literature, etc., that any of that that I may have kept was very outdated and therefore not very useful. Last, if you discover after moving that you need something left at home, ask someone who cares about you to find it and send it. That’s what my kids do and I appreciate the few chances I still have to be useful/helpful to them.

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  5. It is hard to choose. We are working on living smaller and simpler. I am trying to keep what I can simply by organizing, but that only gets me so far. When deciding, yes, often the idea of, “Quick, if there was a fire, what would you grab?!” runs through my mind and the honest truth is… NOTHING, my dog yes, but “things” no. My photos are on a server, but in your case, you’ve been there, you know the realities. How difficult it must be for you. But it also gives you a unique perspective. You KNOW, you really KNOW what that’s like. I think that makes you qualified to understand what’s truly valuable in the long run. Having lost everything at 17 might make you inclined to hold on to everything but at the same time you are aware that you lost it all and you got along alright (you appear to have anyway).
    If you come up with a system, a philosophy about keeping and tossing, I’d be interested in reading it. Good luck with the hard decisions ahead.
    Thank you for sharing your personal experiences.

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