I begin packing for a move with the same apathetic calculation with which I manage the snooze button on my alarm every morning. “Shall I start this week? No, I think I can wait another few days. This weekend? No…I can put it off until Monday. Today? Maybe this afternoon…no, maybe tomorrow…” Then, driven by the same anxiety and rush of adrenaline, I finally leap into it with fervor.
My treasures resist being moved. They hold on to their spaces, their shelves, hide in their drawers, huddle among the refuse in their hidden corners with a psychological glue that is almost unbreakable. “Don’t move me, I live here! This is where I have sat, peripherally unnoticed for years. This is my home…move me, and you destroy your own sanctuary! Leave me, leave me, come back for me last of all!” they plead. And it’s true…grabbing a carving, a dish, a tiny memoir of a trip long past and forgotten takes Herculean effort, nauseating and heartbreaking exertion. The tiny touchstone yields its place, leaving only a small circle in the untouched dust, and joins the pile of other orphans in the packing room where the torturous task is being done.
But once it starts, it flows and becomes easier, less calculating. Each item slowly changes from a small token of my past, a small measure of home and comfort, to a faceless challenge in an intriguing puzzle. “Can I wrap this so it cannot break? How well can I fit these strangely shaped pieces into this three-dimensional space? Is this box too heavy, or too light? Are Like things being packed with Like, or will I end up tunneling through this small treasure chest, upsetting the carefully arranged order, to find some one item sooner than the rest?”
After a few hours, I have made great strides. The magical spell of my home is broken, my rooms no longer have my scent, my signature. Once-treasured and faithful items are now trash, failing the final judgement of Uselessness or Worth, Souvenir or Clutter. Books unread and books well-read are in the same discard pile; nooks once known for their comfort and warmth now stand barren and cold, staring at me with a cold gaze. Or worse yet, ignoring me with the deliberate apathy of a spurned lover. Soon, the leprosy will spread to the entire house; the pantry, the fridge, the workshed, the bedroom. But for now, only a few rooms have been stripped, several boxes have been filled with all the care of surgery, and tonight I will sleep well. The dismantling has begun.
The home is dead. Long live the home. I hope we meet again.