The old CDs were downloaded onto the computer and packed away in boxes months ago. They are ready to be given away to someone who still listens to CDs. Summer clothes were sorted, bagged up and driven to the charity bins of a local church. But the books were left in place to gather dust. Filled bookcases make the house more a home and I felt a home would sell better than a house. That’s one of the reasons I waited. Procrastination being another.
The house is now under contract (fingers crossed the sale will go through) and boxes and plastic bins are multiplying and slowly taking over the house, room by room. I’ve had a year to do this, but have put off the task thinking that this whole thing with the Peace Corps just wouldn’t pan out—from their end, not mine—and I’d be staying put. But things are moving quickly now, there are only five weeks left before staging and departure to Ukraine.
I have gardening books set aside for donation to the Capital District Community Gardens. There are more gardening books set aside for my best friend and piles of themed and subject-specific books for other friends. Then there are the plastic bins of books I simply can’t part with; those I am willing to pay money to store for two and half years. All the rest, the two thousand plus or minus cookbooks, will be sold, if possible, or donated to a worthy charity.
There is a lot of packing going on and chaos is becoming the new normal. I guess I’d better get used to it, because I’m sure there will be no normal for quite some time while I get accustomed to life in the Peace Corps and Ukraine and while Ukraine gets accustomed to me. I need to pack up all the things I want to get rid of, through sale or donation. These are the possessions that tend to pile up when you’re not looking, the things I will easily learn to live without. I remind myself that this life I have lived and nurtured to date is ending. All those accoutrements and belongings from past chapters in that life will need to be parted with. They are just things after all.
Going through the library takes time. Most books I can easily pass over with a glance or with a finger run along the spines and say to myself, “Ok, you can go.” But for every fifty I admit not having a deep affection for there is one where my finger lingers and my heart beats a little more rapidly, “No, not you. You need to stay.” “I haven’t read you yet.” And I have to take the book down from its spot on the shelf and thumb through it to remember it’s place in my life, in my heart and why its on the shelf in the first place. “I always loved the drawings in you.“ These are the ones culled and placed in plastic bins for storage. “You. I will need you when I get back.” They are the possessions that have a deeper meaning and purpose and strike a chord within me that I will want to hear again when I return.
I need to remember that there will be many more bins and boxes of other effects to help fill the rented storage unit and help me start my life over again when I return. There will be bins of kitchenware and knick knacks, DVDs and motorcycle paraphernalia, and lots of posters and artwork that will be needed to make my future residence a home. The same painful and purposeful whittling and culling will take place for each of those categories of belongings.
Lastly there are the things to be packed that will travel with me to Ukraine; the essentials to sustain me through 27 months abroad. The Peace Corps provides volunteers with a four-page list of recommendations on what to pack: clothing, shoes, personal hygiene and toiletry items, and a host of miscellaneous things to help you survive in an unfamiliar location. Duct tape is on the list. Some colleagues I’ll be traveling with and training with have already practiced packing and realize they need to rethink their strategies and lists to get themselves down to the allotted 100-pound limit on luggage. I haven’t begun that process yet, but I know that I will need to start soon.
Whether I’m packing up or packing it in, I’m sending myself packing.