The house is practically empty as of today. Which means that when we speak our voices seem unusually loud. The tone of voice that worked when the house was filled with furniture and art work now sounds like yelling as it bounces off blank walls. The floors are scratched and the walls all have tons of holes from where the photographs and paintings hung. The whole house kind of looks like a crumpled party dress. I keep waiting for the empty rooms to inspire some kind of emotion in me, but so far I just walk from room to room and register what’s left in them and don’t really feel anything. Mae loves it, every room has plenty of space for jumping and the house is one long runway, she can go from room to room on her fast little feet with no need to steer.
With any move there is a chance to curate your possessions to get rid of things you don’t need or have outgrown. For the last few weeks I have been giving end tables and lamps as parting gifts to practically anyone who drops by. The large pieces of furniture we used to store the kids toys in when they were little won’t make the cut for this move, nor will the fire truck shaped bunk bed that was a super big kid thing when it first appeared. If we weren’t moving we would have been giving away some of these things anyway, I can’t imagine a 16-year-old version of Ben climbing into the bunk beds. The toy storage, though, would have just faded into the background, along with the rocking horse, and 6 old computer monitors in the attic. I keep promising myself that I will never, ever purchase anything ever again, because I cannot believe how much stuff we have acquired. This is of course ridiculous. When you are moving you are quite literally going through everything you own, and evaluating whether or not you need it. What you realize is that you have things you don’t use anymore and moving presents an opportunity to get rid of it.
I think that this is true not just for our things, but also for ourselves. I know that no matter where you go, you are who you are. I do not expect to wake up that first morning in the new house and be taller, thinner, speak Spanish and have straight teeth. I will wake up in the new house my regular self, but a move is a chance to leave behind old habits and cultivate new ones. I would like to have more time to write, cook, garden and do yoga, I would like to learn how to use my sewing machine, and maybe even pick up some Spanish. While the list of skills that I would like to acquire is long, the list of habits I would like to break is longer: snacking, procrastinating sleep, not leaving clean folded clothes in piles anywhere but drawers, feeling busy when I am not, never listening to voicemail, amazon. Those things are all habits. There are many more but none of them serve me and I hope to break them in our new house. Just like the bunk bed they don’t serve a purpose anymore.
One of my favorite things to say to students in class, is “let go of what doesn’t serve you” this can mean gritting your teeth because you think it will help you balance, or thinking about lunch while you are on your mat. I like the idea that if we pay attention to what we actually have, and how we behave, that we can let go of what we don’t need. Habits, like anything ever purchased from Ikea may have served a purpose when you got them, but if you don’t pay attention to them they may become permanent fixtures long after you don’t need them. That is my practice for this move, paying attention to what I am bringing with me into the new house not just on the back of the truck but in my head and heart as well, and letting go of anything that doesn’t serve me.