Notes on Packing
As I pack up my apartment in Boston, it occurs to me how much more packing is, as a process, than simply storing items in boxes to move them. Packing begins that stressful, exhilarating, and exhausting task—moving. I have not moved nearly as many times as many of my friends have. Moves back and forth between home and the dorms during college got so routine they can hardly be counted as separate moves, and my move to Florence during junior year doesn’t quite count either, since I only brought two suitcases with me. I moved home after college and lived there for two years, in the same bedroom I grew up in. My first adult move occurred when I moved to Boston four years ago for grad school, and I was astounded by the effort, thought, and emotions bundled up with the physical act of packing. Not only did I need to fill boxes with my possessions, I needed to take stock and evaluate those possessions. Which books was I going to keep and which ones would stay behind, to be left in a paper bag in my closet (where they still remain)? How far back should I keep credit card statements and cell phone bills? How many teddy bears was it logical and practical for a 24-year-old woman to take to her first adult apartment?
I was fortunate enough to live in that first adult apartment for three years, but the miserable commute and college-y neighborhood soon grew to be too much, and my roommate and I relocated across town, from Brookline to Somerville, last summer. That move was another evaluation, another taking stock of what needed to stay and what needed to go, but for the most part, it was a simple move. Our new apartment was similar in terms of space and storage, so my roommate and I didn’t have to get any new furniture (besides bookshelves that I bought because my old room had a built-in shelf) or even get rid of anything.
This move to Brooklyn is easily the biggest I’ve ever made, in terms of distance, significance, and what I’m leaving behind. I will miss many things about Boston: seeing familiar faces just about everywhere I go, the view of the Charles from the red line train every day, being so close to home, and the friends I’ve made here, just to name a few. But I’m ready to go. Then why is packing so hard?
Of course, there’s the sheer challenge of fusing two people’s stuff into a New York apartment. We have one closet, friends. One. I have become accustomed to a walk in closet in my bedroom, an extra coat closet in the living room, and a huge pantry. And now I’m faced with being very creative with my belongings—not to mention those of my boyfriend. I got rid of four bags’ worth of clothing and two shelves of books. I’ve condensed my CD collection into one booklet and have sent my parents home with my yearbooks, scrapbooks, knick knacks, boxes of photos, and shoeboxes of mementos like ticket stubs and birthday cards collected over these four years. I’m selling and giving away most of my furniture. Tonight, I will box up the rest of my closet, and I will stand over my crate full of notebooks—notebooks I’ve been writing in, on and off (mostly on), since freshman year of high school. We don’t have room for them in the new apartment. I know this. The only time I look back at them, I just end up spending hours marveling at how angsty/sad/ridiculous/melodramatic I used to be. But there’s a tiny voice telling me if I abandon those notebooks, I’m leaving behind some vital part of myself that I might not get back (though, to be honest, I’m probably better off).
Does anyone else have this problem when moving? What do you keep and what do you leave behind? And what does that mean? Do you keep your writing, your books, your old photos?