Moving’s rubbish. I’ve done it far too much lately (the past five years). I understand why people* buy dwellings, then spend all their time and money making them exactly how they want it, then sit in it watching box sets and drinking wine. It terrifies me, but I understand it.
Moving’s about possessions. If you didn’t have any possessions moving would be a piece of cake. You could just turn up cheerily at the new house with just a handkerchief tied to a stick. The handkerchief wouldn’t contain anything, because you’d have no possessions. The handkerchief would be symbolic.
Replace ‘handkerchief’ with ‘staggering array of modern gizmos’ and this crazy vision is the actual truth for some people. Late last year there was a spate of effortlessly smug articles going “Now I have my ipad and my iphone and my kindle and my laptop I have no need for DVDs, CDs, books, clothes, frying pans or friends, and spend all my time living in boutique hotels because it’s cheaper than renting”. When I say spate I mean one, and it was probably in the Evening Standard, an odd publication which persists in its belief that the exploits of the children of the aristocracy is of interest to anyone.
But it made me think about my own possessions, and how useless I’ve been with them. Lots of stuff is still in New Malden, and is slowly rotting in a shed. Love letters, photographs, 1980s computer games: all gradually becoming mulch. Should probably do something about that.
And then there is the great online archive which is likely to be transitory. Emails (some lost already, many impossible to collate), blogs (half gone), pictures (existant on flickr and across assorted old computers and hard drives), music (lost, partially digitised, given away, forgotten, not in the right cases…). If we’re at least partially defined by what we have then I am not much in particular. I have some books, at least. And a ukulele.
So, both on and offline, my possessions are in a mess. I made a start at a photo album in spring 1998, writing dates and sarcastic captions and using too much prit stick. All my diaries are lost, embarrassing, or incomplete. If I ever accidentally write the next great American novel, my biographers aren’t gong to have much to go on.
I think about possessions a lot because I’m basically a hoarder, albeit a very inefficient one. I keep things and I can’t remember why and then I lose them. Moving around a lot has probably been good for me in that I’ve lost all concept of the worth of stuff, which is good for the soul, but then I worry that one day I’ll wake up and find I’m the sort of person that cares about that kind of thing.
Anyway. Back to packing the things I’d forgotten I owned.
* with the means