October 5, 2013
I’ve moved – sort of. One would think, moving from a small upstairs apartment to the larger downstairs apartment would be easy. One would be wrong. After ten years upstairs, I had my sixty-plus years of “stuff” neatly tucked away in nooks and crannies and closets and open shelves, in the wicker chest that served as a coffee table, the large popcorn tin that served as an end table next to my overstuffed chair and assorted other “cheater” hide-aways one accrues when you’ve lived in a series of small apartments. Downstairs, there is almost too much storage space – none of it configured in the same manner as upstairs – and, although I had help from my son and a couple of friends bringing much of that stuff down, (much still remains upstairs as of today,) it is now up to me to decide what to do with it.
I have managed to carve out a bare-bones living room, office area, kitchen, bath, and bedroom. I’ve made a start on the indoor garden room. When I’m tired, I have enough spaces set up, with enough familiar knick-knacks judiciously placed around, that I can sit or lie down and relax for a while in modest comfort. Whether you’re seventy or seven, that seems like a wise first step in any new move.
This will go on for a while longer. My friends are coming back in the next few days to help me break down and move the “library”. (I now have an entire extra room for a library, complete with comfy chair and a reading lamp. Oh, the joy.) My son will bring down the few remaining big items and I will bring down the rest of the smaller items a few at a time and rest in between.
Over the next month or two, I’ll sort them out, place them or store them, gradually settle into the new home in my old home and life will again be “normal”.
I don’t have much furniture; most of it was bought used after each move. I do have lots of pictures and knick-knacks – comfort food for the heart when one moves as often as I have through the years. Each one ties me to someone I loved and cared about over those years and makes each new place home.
I think that important, especially in these unsettled times. As the Empire continues its decline and the costs of climate change, peak resources, political and economic dysfunctions grow, (and can anyone doubt that dysfunction after the spectacularly stupid behavior of our government over the last few days?) more and more Americans will be dislocated – whether by chance or choice – sometimes, calamitously. Even now, we see the struggles for food, water and shelter beginning here.
Somewhere in all this dislocation, we will have to struggle for something else, just as important in the long run – our humanity. We will each have to find our own way to do this if the species is to survive.
For me, it’s the pictures and the knick-knacks:
The little pewter snuff box, bought by one of my great-grandmothers at a world fair in the late 1800s for a daughter and passed on to me by my mother. I keep small trinkets from my son’s childhood in it. A reminder of my family and that my family is connected to other families past, and those to others, still – as we all are, in that vast family we call humanity.
An electric scissors, given to me by a boss (who I and everyone else was a little afraid of) after I re-hemmed a new coat for her. She paid me for my work; the gift of the scissors was her way, I think, of thanking me for seeing her as a human being, too. It reminds me that people are not always what they first seem, once you get to know them. Part of what we call the human condition.
A paper holder in the shape of a large wooden clothes pin, with a plaque that says, “I’m so used to being tense, when I’m calm, I get nervous”. It was given to me, during a time I was under a good deal of stress, by a friend who later betrayed the friendship, in a way I could not forgive at the time, in her own moment of stress. I keep it, not to remind me of the betrayal, which I now realize was careless but unintentional, but of the friendship, which was neither. Both our reactions, another part of the human condition.
Change is coming, as change has always come to humanity. We will have to adapt and accommodate, as is always the case, if we want to survive. The rich as well as the poor; the politically connected as well as the disenfranchised. What we struggle to keep and what we choose to let go of will determine who we become in that future. If we wish to remain human, we mustn’t forget that along with food for the body we humans need food for the heart, as well.