When I said I had all my stuff in my car, I was exaggerating. I had the last of my stuff in the car, but my sister already took a station-wagon-load down to my parents' house for me, and now it's all sitting in the middle of the garage. Before I left Portland, I got rid of tons of furniture and books and CDs and pretty much anything else I could bring myself to part with, which turned out to be quite a lot, but the remainder is... disappointingly bulky.
My parents have very generously offered me attic space to store everything I'm not taking with me. So now my task is to sort out the stuff I'm storing from the stuff I'm taking, and to box up the stuff-to-be-stored and squeeze it into my corner of the attic. And this is, inexplicably, impossible.
I don't understand it. I just performed a series of superhuman feats, involving contractors and repairmen, extremely adhesive linoleum squares, enthusiastic friends, and lots and lots of paint! I just let go of a bazillion excellent possessions! I just managed to transport all my remaining things to another town! I am clearly unstoppable! And I have space and time to work in, everyone is being so kind and accommodating, someone else is preparing all my meals, and... nothing is getting done. I am grasping at every distraction, I'll get to it in a few minutes, just as soon as I get done with these other things, oh no the day is over, guess I'll have to work on it tomorrow. Like that, days slip by.
So I ask my host at my next destination: I need a little more time. Is it all right if I come a day later? Saturday instead of Friday? And the answer comes back, We're leaving town for the weekend, how about Monday? Sure, I say with relief. Monday's great.
But on Sunday, it really looks like Monday will not be so great. Even though the campers and their gear are gone now, I still have so far to go. Worse, fatigue is descending like the Sandbag of Damocles, so heavy that I can't even draw on eleventh hour adrenaline to get the job done. I was warned there would be payback for the stresses and postponed emotions of the past month, and I suspect that time has come. I send another e-mail to my host: Sorry, but would Tuesday be all right? and then I tumble into bed, hours earlier than usual.
I sleep for nearly 12 hours, and when I get up there's a reply: Tuesday's busy for us, you should come Wednesday instead. Ahahaha. Time is on my side again. So I return to the unpacking-sorting-repacking with a will. My progress is slow, and I am still easily distracted, but I am finally reaching the bottom of the heap. And I have a lot of time to think about why this is so hard.
1. It's hard because so much of the hurriedly-boxed-up clutter I brought from Portland represents unfinished tasks: contact info for people I was supposed to contact, papers I was supposed to file, comics I was supposed to finish drawing, clothing I was supposed to mend, items I was supposed to give to specific people -- and going back through them, I have to decide over and over whether to seize this one last chance to follow through, or write it off as a failure.
2. It's hard because a lot of this stuff, I don't even want to keep, or at least not in this form -- I don't want boxes of unsorted photos, I want them all scanned and backed up online; I don't want archives of paper memorabilia from past years, but I want to go through them all one last time and take notes -- but of course, I don't have time to take on projects of that scale now.
3. It's hard because I didn't really have time to get everything all sorted out back in Portland, and now just when I think I've got, say, all the photos boxed up, I find another cache of them in an unexpected corner, and then there's no room left in the existing boxes-designated-for-photos.
4. It's hard because I feel (irrationally) like, after all the stuff I've gotten rid of, I shouldn't have this much left. At this point in my progress, I envisioned I would have shaved my possessions down to the essentials so I could brag about my minimalistic lifestyle. ("It was easy to let it all go," I would tell my rapt blog-audience. "The hardest part was deciding to do it.") Reader, I will not be bragging. I will have too many boxes in the attic and too much
5. And, honestly, it's hard because I'm clinging to the stuff. The stuff and I, we are two halves of a velcro fastener. I'm packing up the last remnants of a decade's worth of life, and on some level I'm feeling fairly insecure about this whole mad scheme, so I'm dragging my feet. Everything up until now has been something I could get my head around, but beyond this point is Uncharted Territory.