We're packing up for our next big move, and our goal is to cut our belongings in half (again) before we leave. At this rate, when we get back home we'll each have a swimsuit and a t-shirt to our name. And a steamer trunk full of electronic gear.
Today our job is to pick up every single individual item we own, decide what pile to put it in, and either give it away, send it back to LA in a suitcase, or keep it. We're about half done. I'm exhausted, the house is a wreck, and I leave for LA tomorrow morning, while Bob carries on by himself.
We're giving LOADS away to charity shops: extra electronic stuff, UK electrical adaptors, winter clothes bought from other charity shops six months ago, markers and notepads and little plastic toys from cereal boxes, maps to places we've already been, book we've already read...
We all have our own way of dealing with the paring down. Eleanor has been giving things away to friends. It helps her say goodbye. She's got piles for Roonagh and piles for Ayla. It's very sweet, but she still doesn't understand how little space we have. She's asking what kind of toy I'll bring her back from LA.
I am sending home all my winter things: boots, coats, and sweaters, and also clearing out any extras. I'm feeling a bit naked in the process, but also really delighted to be lightening the load. It's hard to know what I need to have, since I don't know where I'm going. Hmmm... I think there may be a metaphor somewhere in there.
Bob keeps making different piles of cables and equipment, muttering "redundancy, redundancy," and trying to figure out if he's worn a sweater enough times to warrant the fact that he bought it in the first place, using a complicated system involving dividing the number of times worn by the price paid.
Owen, given the choice, would fill his suitcase with books, and wear the same clothes every day. We're in negotiations. I keep reminding him that we do have the Kindle, but he's desperate to keep the pile of mangled Manga books that Babysitter Ben gave him before we left home 8 months ago. He sat for an hour this morning staring at about two dozen paperbacks laid out on the floor in front of him, and finally burst into tears, deciding that he wanted to just quit traveling and go home. NOW!
We had a family pow-wow, there on the living-room floor. Being sad about leaving somewhere is an unavoidable part of our journey. Sometimes it's just a bit too hard, and having a family Sad Session is the only thing to do. It generally doesn't last too long, and we're all better for sharing the moment.
In a few weeks we'll be in France, and no one will miss the things they've left behind. The people are a different story. We hope to keep in touch with our new friends, and to help the kids to do the same. Thank goodness for the internet!
When we leave France we'll probably go through it all again to some extent. And that's OK. The hard comes with the good. I think that paths that are important, and fulfilling, are often quite difficult as well. It's life. We're living it.