Random Realizations, The Sequel

Friday, February 6, 2009

Two more of the same, in what may be a series:

Random Realization #4:

I've noticed a small change in my behavior since I started planning this trip. Actually, it has less to do with the trip and more to do with contemplating moving out of my house and packing my life into the smallest space possible.

I have always been a pack rat, and I like to be surrounded by stuff. My desk at work is cluttered with books, binders, papers, toys and office supplies. My basement has lots of boxes of old documents, letters, schoolwork, cards and mementos. Even though I never go down and look at this stuff, I find it hard to get rid of. In a similar vein, my cabinets upstairs are often full of stuff I'm "saving for later". Bars of tiny hotel soaps, fancy jams and jellies received as gifts, extra cans of soup or boxes of cereal or rolls of plastic wrap... it's there if I need or want it. It's not like I'm surrounded by teetering piles of newspaper, towers of scrubbed-out yogurt containers and a ball of elastic bands the size of a Volkswagen. And I have no box labeled "Pieces of String Too Small to Save"; I just like my stuff.

Since I've started to realize that EVERYTHING in this house will need a new home in just a few months, I've been a lot more liberal in my use of these "saved for later" things. It just doesn't make sense to keep things around anymore. So I've been enjoying having the freedom to use up all kinds of stuff: those tiny soaps, the fancy super-rich hot chocolate from a Christmas at least 3 years ago, bits of lumber and sheet materials in the basement, ziploc bags of homemade pesto in the freezer, even bottles of wine received as gifts that were being saved for a special occasion. Heck, a few weeks ago I opened a bottle of red wine just for myself, on a Monday night. It was great!

Random Realization #5:

If you've been paying attention you know that I'm a long distance runner, and though it can be an inexpensive sport, one of the things you really can't cheap out on is shoes. Wearing cheap, inappropriate or worn out shoes is a quick way to get injured. I try to replace my shoes when they've got about 500kms of mileage on them, and I always like to run big races in new-ish shoes, so I go through a lot of them. If I'm going to run the marathon in Athens in November I'll need to do a fair bit of training before that - probably around 800kms in the 5 months of traveling leading up to the race. That means the running shoes I start the trip with will be dead dead dead by race day. For a long time I had grand schemes of stockpiling shoes with a friend in Winnipeg and having them mailed out before race day. Then I had an epiphany:

  1. People run all over the world.
  2. Therefore people need to buy shoes all over the world.
  3. Therefore there must be places to buy running shoes all over the world.
  4. Therefore I can just BUY SHOES WHILE I'M OUT THERE!
Suddenly I made what seemed like a big leap - it's not just running shoes I can buy "out there". When I need a fresh t-shirt, or a new notepad, or batteries or whatever, I'll just go to a store and buy them. In fact, there actually are stores in the rest of the world! I suppose there will be things I can't get, but there are things I can't get in stores in Winnipeg either, and I've managed to survive here for 12 years.

Then I made an even bigger leap: I should stop thinking of it as "out there", and I should stop thinking of myself as someone who lives in Winnipeg, or Canada, or North America. Once I sell my house and leave Winnipeg, I'll need to find a way to make anywhere I am my home.
"Travel is a state of being homeless; we should welcome the opportunity it gives us to live nowhere."
- from "Halibut Woman" by Barbara Sjoholm


Anonymous said...

Pam, as I am in the midst of a packing frenzy as we prepare to move tomorrow morning, I urge you to use up ALL the little soaps, ALL the extra hot chocolate and little peices of lumber. Believe me you do NOT want to be packing them!! All this packing is also giving me anxiety about how small a backpack really is so your comments about there really being stores 'out there' calms me somewhat.

Phonella said...

Initially when I went to live in Germany I had a Canadian friend send me regular supplies of a certain hair product that was not available there. Now I have a German friend sending me tubes of creams that I absolutely cannot be without here in Canada.

Sometimes we can be so stubborn and irrational, eh?

Mary Horowitz said...

We just moved, and in the process, had to purge a lot of stuff, use stuff up, etc. It was a really gratifying feeling to a) get rid of stuff that we'd felt tied to for years, and b) use up stuff we were "saving"...for a date undetermined. (I totally stockpiled mini containers of jam and honey...it felt great to use them!) Have fun with the packing/using process. I'm loving reading about your plans/preparation so far!

ClearlyEnlight, said...

If you get rid of everything then the concept of "home" will be even further away.

Our true home resides within, so it is never very far away.

Anonymous said...

Just six months ago we went through the same thing. It was so hard at the time, but a few months have gone and now I don't even remember what I put in storage.

It's an amazing thing...

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