We always move the first week of August—it’s tradition. So I wasn’t really surprised when Jay, upon reflecting that the summer was almost gone and we weren’t making any forward progress, declared that it was time to move. Sunday, August 2nd (our twelfth anniversary, incidentally) marked the last time we packed up our things after visiting the boat. Monday we made it home. Although there are logistical challenges to making this kind of move, the real test is a mental one. Yesterday the house on dirt was called “home,” and today the floating house is called “home.” We drove back and forth all week, loading and unloading the boat, and the house, and made frequent slips, saying, “I’m going home to get such-and-such, I mean, I’m going to the house…” Or, the kids, asking, “Are we going home yet?” and I unsure how to answer.
All that confusion has now come to an end. After a year of flying between two nests, the mama bird has come home to roost. I write from my now-tidied and organized, cozy, little salon. The galley is crammed with kitchen gadgets I have learned to live without, and now appreciate more than ever, and the bookshelves are loaded with my most prized possessions, the few that are left after a savage culling. I have given away 15 boxes of books, so far, and will have to store the leather-bound volumes an old friend left to me when she no longer needed them. I brought only what I considered “necessities” but Jay’s condemning look as he loaded my homeschool boxes was almost more than I could bear. What have I weighed us down with that I really could do without? I don’t know the answer to that question, because I’ve never done this before.
What is really mortifying is how much stuff we have left over. Anyone who knows me knows I seek to live a “simple” life—we don’t even know the Joneses, let alone try to keep up with them. We moved back to Florida to downsize, donating everything from our Atlanta basement, and have continued to make regular trips to drop things off at the Hospice Thrift Shop and Salvation Army. So it is truly shocking to see what is left after I have been hard at work for two months giving things away. Now that we are out of the house, I have been ruthless, but still, every time I open a closet or kitchen drawer, more stuff grins out at me. Where did it come from? Did we really think we needed it? I feel that I am a great hypocrite (which I surely am): I who profess to be un-materialistic, have amassed a quantity of material things. Many of these things are gifts which we graciously received, or duplicate sets of things from living in two places at once, but many were purchased frivolously, lumped into the “grocery” budget because Costco sells oh-so-much-more than food. You know how I love a good sermon, so here’s one for me, “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” 1 Timothy 6:8. Only in trying to get rid of it have I seen how much more we possess than we need.
My one great joy in this cleansing process has been that so many have come into our lives needing exactly the things I am giving away. That has made it easy to part with things which I would otherwise begrudgingly donate. We have all made small sacrifices to pursue this dream—giving away toys and books is hard for our children, too. The only “things” we haven’t yet parted with: Sugar and Spice, the family cats. I don’t think they want to spend their golden years surrounded by water, but we won’t be satisfied with less than a happy home to which to send them. Maybe someone out there is lonely for a pair of spinster cat sisters—I just hope we find that person soon!