The last few days I’ve looked around my sparse apartment and have been contemplating in my head what exactly I can throw away. Just a few moments ago I was walking around throwing small items in the trash until I’d come across something related to taxes or my lease or an old computer that I can’t get rid of. I want to get rid of those things. I have postcards from loved ones that I want to throw away but can’t bring myself to just yet.
Throwing away postcards reminds me too much of my grannie. She basically took trash from her property and dumped it in a gully a bit away from her house. She had 180 acres of land so this was pretty easy to do. We would rarely go down there but I do remember going at one point and finding a card I wrote her amongst the trash. She adored me – I have no doubt – but seeing my letter discarded in the trash stunned me. It was a bit surreal to find. As I’m older now, I realize she had a healthier outlook than I do on sentimental things. Either that or she had too many sentimental things handed down to her in her house to keep track of smaller mundane things like a poorly written thank you card from her granddaughter :).
I have this strong urge to delete and remove. Now that I know how to restart my life again and again, it’s not an uncomfortable or scary feeling. It is empowering to want to move on and to start fresh. I’ve been fighting this urge since I signed a year long lease here. Despite telling myself this would help me “stay”, the feelings haven’t subsided. They ebb and flow but I’ve never fully settled.
For some reason, I hate looking around my apartment and seeing things that would be hard to get rid of. The books I could easily donate. The A/C unit I could probably give to a friend here. The $100 futon I could give away. The spices I could throw away.
Why do I have so many jackets? When did I get 6 pairs of shoes? I just donated 10 books yet still 20 remain (most of which I haven’t read). I want it all to be gone so I walk around my apartment grabbing things and throwing them in the trash. I glance into my refrigerator and have to remind myself that “Don’t worry – you will eat all of this so it’s okay to keep it all there for now.”
Technically, my lease ends December 17th. I have emailed loosely with the landlord about extending this to March 1st but I’m tempting fate right now by not following up with him. What if I did move out then? A large part of me would be relieved.
Where would I go? I have no clue. Seriously. I’d probably go to my childhood home but wouldn’t stay long. Then what? I’m back to square one. I could travel more – yes. That’s already on the agenda for the year ahead (Spain, Portugal, and New Zealand). But then what? It goes back to activity vs achievement for me. What am I trying to achieve by leaving? What am I trying to achieve by staying? Both in and of themselves can be just activity or they can be achievement depending. Right now, I can’t tell which is which. I think that’s why I’m being so lackadaisical about my lease. I almost want it to be a coin flip decision so I can at least forge ahead.
The non impulsive part of my being says to stay until March 1st and then leave. Go to Europe and explore for a few months. Come back and head to Colorado for the summer and soak up as much nature as you can. Come Fall, return to San Diego.
The hermit part of me says to just stay in my apartment until the end of time and never ever leave again. She begs me to buy a real bed and a real couch. She desperately wants to buy a nice crock pot so she can stop trying to throw together meals with just a small fry pan and a glass baking dish. She just wants to play soccer, go to the same gym at the same time, and buy coffee from the same coffee shop for eternity.
The impulsive part of me keeps looking around the apartment and throwing shit away. She is most definitely winning today.
“No one had forewarned me, however, that if you live abroad any good while, the notion of home is permanently compromised. You will always be missing another place, and no national logic will ever again seem fully obvious to you.” – Andrew Solomon from “Far And Away“
I do genuinely feel permanently compromised in this sense. I am both longing for community and longing to be embedded in the discomfort of knowing no one in a new place. It’s incredibly disorienting. This feeling is likely why I’ve so gravitated towards traveling with loved ones. It combines the best of both of those aspects within me. It makes me feel most alive wheres those aspects separately leave me feeling incomplete.
I think that’s the solution at the end of the day – regular trips with loved ones and the always present freedom to change “home base”. The urge to throw things away is suddenly lessening :).
Photo by Deanna Ritchie on Unsplash