Life, in boxes

Finally, I’ve made the move. My landlord handed me the keys to our Bolton Hill walk-up about 3 p.m. on Saturday, as my husband and five of our friends pulled up with the moving truck and their stuffed SUVs. Drenched in sweat, we hauled stuff up a flight of stairs to our second-story apartment, piling boxes in corners and random bags in heaps.

Somehow, things arrived in once piece. The only casualty (we know of) is a peanut butter jar that smashed on the kitchen floor.

My husband and I did a terrible job preparing to move. He had a huge test on Friday, and when he finished, he was not in the mood to pack, and I didn’t blame him. We started boxing books (of which we have many) around 7 p.m. on Friday, only to quit a couple hours later for Dateline.

Thankfully, our friends were beyond helpful when they showed up around 10 a.m., helping us finish off the kitchen and office areas. When we picked up the truck, my husband asked me if we really needed it, and if I wasn’t sure we could get everything in our friends’ cars. I assured him we DID need it, and in the end we filled it AND our friends’ cars.

We have way more stuff than we thought.

This is the eighth time I’ve moved in as many years, including some short-term subleasing stints in between longer-term places. Most of my things are in a shed on my parents’ Minnesota farm, waiting for me to have a house for them someday. My husband and I prided ourselves on our ability “to live simply” in our 380-square-foot apartment in D.C.’s Columbia Heights neighborhood, and patted ourselves on the back for not needing so many things around the house.

Our pride was unwarranted.

Our Baltimore kitchen is much bigger than the one we had, but I’m still discovering new boxes of kitchen items in need of shelf space. Where did we put all of this before?

In the midst of unpacking, my husband and I have talked about the new opportunities before us during this transition – a chance to set new routines, change bad habits and try new hobbies. Jordan Ferney, a designer and author of the blog Oh Happy Day, also just moved from Paris (yes, France) to San Francisco and wrote a post last week called “Simplify” on the pleasure of living with less. (And keeping what you have nice.)

I think she’s onto something. If you look at the lives of the saints, they’re brimming with examples of holy men and women (St. Francis, et. al.) who rid themselves of stuff (or more) in order to draw closer to God. Unpacking may be presenting an unexpected blessing — an opportunity for detachment and greater simplicity. (We’ve started by putting our TV in storage.)

If you started going through your own stuff, what would you get rid of?


Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.