Travelchick

My adventures and mis-adventures as I travel here and there

Getting Down with Downsizing


So when my boyfriend and I first decided that I would be moving to Michigan to be closer to him, I warned him that I would need some kind of large U-haul to transport my vast treasure hoard of belongings. “I know it doesn’t look like it, but I have a LOT of stuff!” When you stay in the same place for three and half years you will not believe the amount of STUFF that accumulates in dark corners and endless closets. I really thought I’d gotten my point across until somehow he convinced a reluctant me that it would be more cost effective and still feasible with regard to space if we bought a large van and drove it from Washington to Michigan, where we would then sell it again. Voila! No money lost! I realized that I wouldn’t be able to move much if any furniture using this method, but I agreed that it was a good idea. I felt a little bit claustrophobic at the thought of forcing my precious belongings into a reduced space, but I dealt with it.

Fast forward to today… and I am now planning to move across 3 time zones in a car. That’s right, a car! What can you move in a car??? I really can see the benefits here: less gas spent, the opportunity to simplify my life, and the ability to drive something besides a van around once I reach my new home. Still, though, I must self-soothe regularly to keep from freaking out and reverting to daydreams of a huge U-haul trundling across the desert with my possessions virtually rattling around in it. A car is a vastly different thing. I am only mollified by the suitcases-full that we have already managed to transport ahead of time during our visits back and forth to one another. This weekend, in fact, I am stuffing another two suitcases full of things I will (hopefully) not need again before moving day and putting them and me on a plane to The Motor City. What do I put in those suitcases?! I panic slightly at the thought that after this trip, everything I still own will need to be stuffed into a mid-sized car. Either that or it will have to meet the fate that many of my belongings have already met in a big pile with a sign on top proclaiming “FREE”. I swear that fully half of my wardrobe has made it out to the curb. I gave up one of my comforters, several roles of hoarded wrapping paper, and eleven pairs of shoes. Ok, ok, these doesn’t sound like painful sacrifices, not yet, but I cringe when I imagine what I could be forced to discard as moving day looms (my favorite teddy bear, my hottest pair of shoes, photo albums…). I’m terrible at space estimation, so as I look around my room I have NO idea what’s going to fit and what isn’t. Oh, did I mention I have a cat and a bird??? The birdcage alone will take up a few square feet of space and litter boxes aren’t tiny.

Most of all, I want to pack up RIGHT AWAY, am ready to move, ready to start my new adventure, ready to know for sure if my special dessert plates are going to make the cut or not, but I have unfinished business in this town before I can move on. Therefore, against all internal persuasions I put down the suitcases for the time being and turn my attention the never ending thesis…

I know, however, that tonight while I try to get to sleep my mind will be racing, doing a mental sweep around the apartment. What can I get rid of and not miss? Will THAT fit in a car?! Will anyone think I’m crazy for taking THIS and not that thing over there?

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January 12, 2010 Posted by | Travel, United States | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

To Misery or Missouri?

Sardines are lucky. I was jealous of sardines. Sardines were packed in liquid so that, unlike me, they could slip around a bit. Five people. In one car. For 14 hours. Our annual trip to Missouri is never what I would call a pleasant experience, lengthy car rides not being my favorite mode of travel, but this one took the cake. Add one more person to our party and BAM! I was sitting in the middle in the back, with one foot on either side of that inevitable hump between the seats (As an aside, does anyone actually know why that hump is there? Is there a valid purpose for it, or is it put there just to make the middle-seat rider especially uncomfortable and serve as a constant reminder that they are, in fact, sitting in a middle seat?) We not only had ourselves packed into the front and back seats but, because the trunk was crammed with suitcases and bags and packages and who-knows-what, we had computer bags and backpacks and pillows and food bags packed around our heads and feet. If we had a wreck, only the driver would have moved. The rest of us would have melded into the luggage and metal and whatever tree we hit to become a sort of instant spectacle: travelers in amber.

My dad’s feet were cold. The entire trip. Constant calls from him to “turn up the heat!” left the rest of us feeling as if we were stuffed into a pressure cooker. I’m giving that man some wool socks.

My grandma, aunt and uncle, great aunt and uncle, and at least four cousins live in Missouri, making it a traditional gathering place for Christmas celebrations. Before my grandpa died, he and Grandma lived in a huge old house that had been standing in its spot for more than a hundred years. It had seen World War II soldiers bunking under its eaves as well as it had seen babies bouncing down its curving staircase. For years I had strange and fantastical dreams about that house, with its mysterious attic rooms and shaky narrow walk areas by the second-story windows. I actually put my foot through the upstairs floor once, and it lent an aura of danger to the entire experience. After that it was understood that some areas just weren’t safe to walk on. I would dream that behind the shady doors were more and more flights of stairs that led up and up in never-ending levels to curving passageways and hidden treasures.

Post-Grandpa, Grandma sold their antique business and moved from the big old house into a tiny apartment. Now when we visit Missouri we stay with my dad’s brother and his family in the house they built out in the middle of nowhere by a small lake. It just isn’t the same. Still, it’s great to spend time with family, especially if the other cousins show up. And then there’s always Grandma’s pumpkin pie, to which no other pie can compare.

This year, however, I knew that the cousins who lived in non-Missouri places would not be there. Even worse, Grandma was in a nursing home and would not be making any pumpkin pie. It would have been helpful to have pumpkin pie to look forward to during 14 hours in a middle seat. To make up for the pie, and to appropriately dull my senses, I took a nausea pill supplied by my sister (who should really look into drug dealing as a career) and promptly zonked out for pretty much the entire trip. Much to my annoyance, we took frequent bathroom breaks and food stops. I just wanted to sleep undisturbed for 14 hours. The drug kept me asleep enough to avoid becoming as completely tired of the drive as my travel companions, who were battling the rain that slowed us down considerably. Toward the very end of the trip, I woke up and began to watch Pride and Prejudice. “Why have I never seen this incredible movie before?!” I thought. And then, finally, we were there.

December 23, 2008 Posted by | Travel, United States | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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