I had planned to write something a couple of weeks as I sat in the shade in my pseudo-home of the past eight months: a self-storage lot in Solana Beach, California. I sat there watching, well, my life, essentially, get packed up into three large wooden crates for shipment to my more-rooted home in Alaska and a couple of thoughts occurred to me.
The first was: “Holy shit! I need to lighten my load!” This feeling was strengthened a couple of days later when the moving company (in a turn of events as shocking as Claude Rains finding out there was gambling going on at Rick’s Cafe Americain in “Casablanca”) declared that the actual cost of shipping my stuff north was going to be a little bit more expensive than their estimate: 60 percent more expensive. Gulp. Well, what could I do? They had my stuff in the aforementioned wooden crates in a storage yard in beautiful downtown Poway, California, and I was 3,800 miles away, back in Anchorage, Alaska. I told them to get the stuff moving north.
The honesty of moving companies notwithstanding, the fact remains that I have a ton of crap that I don’t use that often. And unlike a lot of my friends, I actively purge my belongings on an annual basis. But some of the things that had always seemed so important took on a new role as I realized their density made for expensive shipping. I mean, do I really need all those books I’ve been toting with me for a couple of decades? The complete works of Jim Harrison and Tom McGuane…do I need them on hand 24/7 or will the memories of how those works moved me suffice? And if I absolutely must reference something from my collection, wouldn’t a public library (like the one I’m sitting in right now) enable me to accomplish that goal?
The second (and contradictory) thought that occurred to me as I watched those crates filling up was: “Wow. Forty-five years and that’s all I have to show for it.” I felt like Kevin Kline in “A Fish Called Wanda” when he shoots the empty safe and yells out, “Disappointed!” Friends and acquaintances have actual lives to look back upon: families, kids, homes, second homes, loves, losses, fine china, sentimental gewgaws, hand-me-downs, inexplicable gotta-haves and so forth. Me? I have a lot of toys (i.e.: sports gear), a huge bed, a dresser, kitchen tools, a gajillion CDs, a few hundred hours of Grateful Dead concerts on cassettes and a ton of books. Not much to show for 45 years, is it?
Regardless of whether I have too much detritus or not enough, the experience was profound enough that I will definitely be doing an item-by-item recalculation once everything arrives here in Alaska in another couple of weeks. Expect a few changes…