Libby...thanks for the questions on packing and moving. I am sharing them here so everyone can see! “Unpacking at the new house, are you coming across things you realized you may not have packed and things you’re glad that you did keep after all? What type of items seems to be associated with those sentiments? What’s something you thought you could have gotten rid of at one point, but ultimately you are glad you kept?”
Yes, Libby, since we have been through this big move, your questions are spot on with some “sentiments” that have been swirling around inside of me even all these months later. I will say that packing a house up after raising three kids and after nearly 23 years in one place, is quite a process. I know when you graduated you had to pack up too…so this has been fresh on your mind as well. When I began packing last June, I realized quickly that not everything could and would be making the trip north. We needed to fit everything in a U-Haul moving truck and our cars. We needed to make decisions…I needed to make decisions. That process of discernment was, honestly, the most exhausting part of moving for me. As I stop and think about it, I’m realizing that letting go of some things felt like letting go of the memories those things stirred…and I was unwilling to do either.
You see, I am sentimental, and so yes I keep stuff. I have rocks from places I’ve visited…and places my kids have visited! I have file folders from my first-year teaching (1983) and notes written by FCA campers (and friends) in the 1980’s and 90’s. I have Mother’s Day cards from since I started receiving them, and I have team pictures and notebooks from every year I coached at Hillcrest Christian School and Biola University. I have UCLA notes from when I played, and from these past six years of working there, including notes from you, Libby! In my mind, there is no way I don’t keep all of this…and yet, should I? Well, most of it did find its way into our boxes and has now landed in our new home…but some of it didn’t.
One particular day while packing the garage I pulled out a very large tub that was completely filled with homework and artwork and various other elementary school items from all three of our children. I had kept handwriting workbooks, books “about me,” valentines…you get the picture. I literally filled up the recycle bin crying. They are items I know I should be glad I didn’t bring, but it still makes me emotional. Now, of course, don’t think I threw all of it away! I created a sort of mental matrix and emotional filter of what to keep and not keep, and so I also filled up several packing boxes to bring with us! These boxes are now sitting in our guest house. I’m guessing I will likely need to unpack them with another recycling can nearby and take a deep breath and discern what really needs to stay. I’m sure if I ask my children, they would prefer most of it be released…I’m also here to tell you, that’s not going to happen!
One item I considered getting rid of was the rug in our living room. It was stained and a bit discolored from where the sofa had been. I looked at it and pondered for many days. I thought…it will be heavy and take up space in the truck and it is almost ready for retirement. It is an item we could purchase when we figure out what we need in the new house. It is also a rug we purchased with inheritance money when my husband’s father passed. Hm. On that basis I decided to keep it. We would find a spot for it in our new home, or guest house, or garage even perhaps. I just couldn’t let it go.
We placed the rug in our front room, with the sofa we had in our LA living room. And also, two bookcases from that room, and a rocking chair (my grandfather’s rocking chair). As a matter of fact, I call this sitting area/front room “the museum” because it is very nearly a replica of our living room in our old house. And you know, there is some deep comfort there—home looks like home. The first time I vacuumed the rug in its new home I cried. I was having flashbacks to our old home and that it is no more. (Do other people do this???) I felt so homesick, it was crazy. Let me be clear, I LOVE our new home and our new country living spot. I love it so much that sometimes I sit on the swing and look at all the trees and green grass, the pond and the geese, and that makes me cry too! Yes…I’m a bit of an emotional mess! Or not a mess…just feeling deeply the changes that have come and learning to cope with a very new season of life.
So, Libby, I am very glad we kept the old rug…for lots of reasons. And yet I do wonder if I need to take a deeper step in letting go of some things. The memories will not be gone, and if they are, I know the impact of experiences and people lives on…even if in deep places I can’t immediately recall. You will not remember some parts of your time at UCLA as you get older, but much of it has shaped you in ways that will last forever. There is grieving in change, but there can also be MUCH gratitude and joy in remembering. Maybe next time you come visit you can help me sort through some things…and I can share memories, and then also perhaps let some things go. I hope I’ve answered your questions…let me know if there are follow ups. :)
Much love and life to you,