I’m sitting on the floor in my new apartment. I’ve moved three grocery bags worth of stuff including a candle named “tranquility,” newly framed pictures of my family and a bag of Lindt chocolate that I received for Christmas. This will be the third time I’ve moved since Pete died. The first two were thrust upon me from the outside. Being evicted from my condo because I was not 55 sent me to find home with Dan and Faith. And then they purchased a new place, so I inched down the street with them. New space, new bedroom, same home though. Home is neither the stuff or the space.
During this time, all but my clothes have been in a 10x10 storage unit a few miles away. There have only been three things I missed during this period of separation from my things. First, I packed my guitar practice notebook by accident; that would have been nice to have. Over Thanksgiving, I borrowed a Kitchen Aid and a roasting pan to make dinner. The third thing I missed was my nativity sets, a ritual that I have learned marks not just the season but a movement in my spirit.
That’s it though – everything else that makes up the “stuff” of my life has been superfluous to my existence. There have been a couple times where I almost said something like, “well, my life is a 10x10 box.” But I was wise to edit that thought before it came out of my mouth. Very little of my life is in that 10x10 box. Life is an active word. It’s not static. And it cannot be stored. Almost all that brings me life has been readily available to me in hugs from my grandchildren, meals with my stepchildren and conversations with my friends. I have not once lacked for a place to call home, which I realize is not true for everyone; because of that I feel incredibly grateful.
So as I sit here by the window, next to the heater I am trying to imagine how all of my stored stuff will come to life in this new space. What will fit? What won’t? What will still feel alive when I touch it, move it, sit on it? What won’t? When I placed my stuff in boxes, I was not completely in my right mind. Pete had only just died. I am not sure what I packed, what I tossed, what I donated. While we were packing, tossing and donating, I remember asking myself, “will this furniture be part of my life when I move to my own space?” Will this mug? Will these wall hangings? In what way will this bring me life if I were to enliven it with my body, mind and spirit.
It’s going to be very interesting to open those boxes and find new resting places for my things. I’m looking forward to seeing them spread out from the cramped spaces of their box. I suppose I am looking forward to being reunited with my stuff but I am not expecting it to make me feel at home or for it to help make my life for me.
In fact, the empty apartment already feels very much like home. But I have felt at home at Dan’s for these past several months. I have felt at home on the couch at Joe’s over the past several months. I have felt at home at friend’s homes. I have not lacked for home. This move is not a quest to find “home.” Home was never, and has not been in the stuff that currently lives in my 10x10. No, this is a space for me to enliven on my own. Life is lived, not stored.