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