Our final, frenzied days in Budapest

Budapest Hungary annual srping clean up event

Annual Spring Cleanup: Budapest, Hungary

This morning, well before dawn, I dragged a duffel bag stuffed with Pat’s clothes to a nearby alcove where the homeless men sleep. I left it with the hopes they will recognize it as a gift and find value from the items we no longer need.

As soon as the sun rose, we set off for Starbucks totting three bags of books which I sneaked onto their shelves. Somehow, I feel this must be a rules violation. Or maybe I blanch at the sheer stupidity of buying so many books which I didn’t read and now can’t deal with, so I abandon them without as much as a glance backwards.

We sold our furniture to the landlord, thank goodness. A young couple, good friends, are excited to own two gently used  bikes which I hope they will enjoy as much as we did. There is no regret to this purchase.

This week is one final, frantic scurry to jettison our random possessions. And of course, this makes me think – yet again – of the role “stuff” plays in our lives. We are leaving so much behind with so little thought. I have to wonder if we needed most of this. Ever.

Moving is a process, and one we clearly haven’t mastered. Or maybe it’s just our lives we need to get under control. Dumping a ridiculous number of purchases we accumulated during our time here highlights both our frivolity and our wastefulness.

Today, Pat and I discussed our individual improvement areas. I must stop buying books by the bag. Pat must stop hoarding backpacks and duffel bags.

“Julie, I can’t give that bag away, it’s brand new!”
“Pat, when did you buy it?”
“I don’t remember.”
“That’s it. It’s going in the trash.”

We have limited ourselves to shipping two boxes to Philadelphia and carrying only luggage which can accompany us free of charge. That’s two carry ons, two suitcases. Period. After living here for three and a half years, we need to cull.

A friend at work asked me, “Julie, what makes a place home for you? What are those things you need to arrange immediately?” What a great question! I realize, we need to craft a setting up ritual. Perhaps the first day in each new home, I will buy a bouquet of fresh-cut flowers and place them next to the photo of our kids on my desk. I will need a new journal for each destination. We might want to find a gym, and I will search out a coffee shop and a bakery.

Maybe we will swing into the market for basic condiments and olive oil. As I write this, I am contemplating the seven bottles of wine I must drink in the next three days. Even food and drink, we must remind ourselves, have limits.

Saturday, we turn over the keys to our landlord. Monday, we fly to Austin, Texas. I know, we said we would return to Philadelphia, but plans change. We need to learn to adapt as this won’t be our last course correction. Austin makes more sense for my dwindling career days and my manager is there. Maybe we will have a small, retirement dinner. Or maybe we won’t. Either way, it is a city I have wanted to explore, and it’s only one month.

From there, it is onto Denver where a storage unit needs cleaning out and our doctors appointments are lined up. We handled our dentist and eye doctor here in Budapest to minimize a parade of checkups. Then, we are back east for three weeks visiting each of our kids who fortunately live in a straight line two hours from each other.

On May 2nd, we fly to Paris. There, we will experiment with our setting up ritual. We will browse the shops but remind ourselves that purchases today are most likely problems in the near future. Frankly, I don’t want a life where my things dictate my actions. I am loving still the freedom of an unencumbered life.

When we arrive in Paris, it will be the first time over the next two months where we can relax. It will be the first time I sit down and contemplate the rest of our lives. I’m sure we will be scared, excited, happy, exhausted. Once we’re all set up, I’ll let you know.

Categories: Insiders Budapest

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28 replies

  1. Sounds like it’s time to invest in a kindle 🙂 I can’t believe your stay in Eastern Europe is coming to an end! Time sure flies. Congrats on retirement! There will certainly be a celebratory dinner in Philadelphia!

  2. Best of luck!! I very much look forward to reading about your adventures. 😀 So glad you helped me with our trip to Budapest. 😉

  3. Julie, as a relative newcomer to your blog, I’m thoroughly enjoying it. Best of luck as you transition. I can’t imagine a better place than Paris to contemplate the rest of one’s life and I look forward to the next chapter!

  4. I have been reading your blog since Bratislava…I have taken your suggestions seriously and visited many places in Budapest you have written about. Your Philadelphia restaurant, museum recommendations have been used and I have marveled at your sense of adventure and your gift for sharing through your writing. The best of luck to you as you leave Eastern Europe and start your new chapter. Paris for the summer sounds amazing and well deserved. I will miss your blogs from the World InBetween and wish you adventure, peace and happiness. Congrats on your retirement:)
    Most Sincerely,
    Ellen Goldstein
    Wilmington, DE

  5. Hi Julie,
    So, the time has finally arrived. I will miss your musings from Slovakia and Hungary; it has been like reading a letter from home. I hope that those I will read from US and France will be as interesting and enjoyable.
    Like you, I found out several years ago just how many ‘things’ I have accumulated over the years which I now realize I do not need. John Lennon said “Possession is not nine tenths of the law, it is nine tenths of the problem” 🙂
    Travel well Julie

    • Thanks Colin! You and Dino are in my thoughts… Nice to find someone else out there who loves Bratislava! We have some pretty big tricks up our sleeves. Hope you will enjoy them (and we will return for the Albrecht house opening!).

  6. And did I tell you how many backpacks, sleeping bags, tents, hunting gear I got rid of when Tom died????

  7. Wishing you light, easy travels and let me be the first to say, “Welcome Home!”

  8. Maybe we will come up to Denver, if you’ll have time for a visit.

  9. If you come near Raleigh, I would love to see you. But, no matter where you land, I wish you and Pat the very best. Please continue to keep us posted on your adventures and next chapters. I envy your ability to go and do and it makes me proud to know you. (I hope some of your thoughts and doings motivate me to let go!)

  10. Good luck packing up! For getting rid of books, this is a cool website: http://www.bookcrossing.com/
    It lets you track where the books go after you leave them in “the wild” for someone else to pick up.

    Enjoy your month in Austin. We’ve only been there once for a wedding weekend, but it seems like a really fun city.

  11. Safe travels Julie and Pat!
    I am exited to read the next chapters, somewhat sad though about leaving this one.
    Enjoy Austin, I believe you will love it there.
    (And so proud of you for cutting “stuff” down to 2 boxes. Incredible!)

    • Thanks Mirka… Today, in Budapest, it is spring trash day (an amazing annual day where people put house sized piles of trash into the street). Pat and I just dumped a backpack and suitcase (after getting to the hotel!). Our stuff was just too heavy to lug. So we pulled out even more and threw it away. BUT, we still have a storage unit!! (ARRGGGHHHH)

      • Wow, still had something to get rid of?
        On a sad note, we have 6 boxes coming soon, and I’m not really waiting impatiently. We are doing just fine without them..
        You are my hero!

  12. The countdown starts! Good luck with everything and welcome to the next chapter of your life. I look forward to reading all about it. Funny…sneaking books into the Starbucks . You are a reverse thief.. :-). We lug around 9 suitcases, and l still only wear the same 3 pants and tops!!!

    • LOL… For years Kemkem, I carried around tons of clothes and never got to the bottom of my suitcase. We fixed that problem. Now, if I could break my husband of camera lenses… 😉

      • That is sacrilege Julie. I’m with you Pat, lenses don’t count as luggage, neither do camera bodies, filters, flash guns, reflectors, tripods ………….
        CRE, president of HOPE! (Hands off Photography Equipment!)

      • Pat is starting to really like you….. and yes, we are carrying a tripod.

      • I agree, that is sacrilege !! Hubby being a photographer has a whole suitcase of gear too. He doesn’t count it as luggage either 🙂

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