The Act of Sorting

There is a peculiar discomfort in relocating to a foreign country and leaving all your things behind.  Even for a minimalist, such as myself.

With the rapid approach of July and our pending departure, I have begun to evulate my things differently than before.  They are the things I have chosen to surround myself with over the last several years, things that speak volumes about who I am and what I like.  The idea of being without them is oddly unsettling.

These things fall into one of three categories: what to take, what to store, and what to discard.

Thus far, the first category mostly contains clothing, shoes, portable electronics, art supplies, and perhaps a blanket or two, if they'll fit.  I bought four heavy-duty climb-Mount-Everest type duffel bags, so it should all fit.  And I won't be able to carry my bag a single step of the way.

The things I'll discard include my bed, the couches, the television cabinet, the crib, the dresser - all the big things I don't want to deal with when I return and we are, once again, racing the clock to find a new home (did I mention that as of yet we don't know where we'll be living once we get to Denmark?)

Last but not least: the things that are doomed to storage.  The brass bed, the theater chairs, the bird cage.  The wooden crate I stole from a supermarket and now use as my bedside stand. The glass bottles I found on my various road trips through the southeast.  The wire dalmation that sits on my toaster.  It may be ugly, but it's my ugly dalmation.  My papers: old letters, sketches, and photographs.  The things I've made. 

And my books ...

photo source

I hate the idea of leaving my books behind, including those I refuse to read again.  They aren't just books, they are hours of my life; old friends and foes that have literally shaped who I have become (how's that for melodrama?).  They contain thousands of words I have underlined and quoted, words that have taught me how to read aloud (an art in itself), how to write, and even more - how to think.  The idea of boxing them up makes me feel .... forlorn?  Is that the word?

You know that feeling you get when you're at a book store, and you find something familiar?  It's sort of like unexpectedly running into an old friend.  Well, I feel that way at least.  It's a feeling no Kindle can ever replace.  Even for the Norton Anthologies, those long, kill-me-now anthologies that still make me cringe inside, just a little, from all the hours spent trying to figure out what the hell the author really meant.

I feel that way for all of them.  And it is unsettling.

And also, in many ways, exciting.  It is a chance to reinvent myself.


  1. Flash back! I understand!

    Except when I first moved I took the most ridiculous things with me... I've since mastered the art of figuring out exactly what I need and nothing more... You know that thing "6 items of clothes" or what ever.... That is me now. I do have more than 6 items, but I do not expect to have more. i work them all together and because of that I am able to move between the two countries without going crazy...

    My biggest problem is also my books... I love books. However, I have lately discovered the library, which was hard for me since Portland has the biggest independent book store in North America (something like that).

    Basically: good for you! You need less than you think and everything you could possibly want is for sale in your new home...

    PS: do you need advise for Denmark? I might know some people who I could pass on your questions to and they could give an answer to help you find a home... maybe. It is an option though.

  2. "It's a chance to reinvent myself." How strongly I identify with that sentiment right now! I haven't written much about it lately because family read my blog and I keep stepping on toes *grrrr* but I feel EXACTLY that forlorn, uncomfortable, disjointed feeling. *hugs*

  3. I know precisely what you mean about books. We went to a used bookstore near where Ainsley and Jon live and I spent the whole hour and a half picking up old paperbacks I already own and flipping to my favorite parts. lol!

    Books are important. You spend WAY more time with them than movies and TV shows...well...except maybe those almost French Stars Hallow girls from Connecticut, I guess you spend a lot of time with them. ;)

    I wish I could help you guys sort and pack up stuff! Maybe I can come with Sarah on her next test date or something...

    And I think you're spot-on with your reinventing theory too...I often feel that way when I start listening to weird music. lol Sometimes it's like you just got a feel for who you are, and suddenly, you do something which surprises you.

    See you in July!! <3

  4. I can't believe you're moving to Denmark! I think I missed your initial announcement of this news, so you'll have to fill me in. When did you guys decide to move and why?

    Deciding things to keep or throw out is always hard. Neal and I always accumulate stuff anywhere we live, and when we move inevitably, there's just too much of it.

    I'm excited for your big move! Good luck and keep me posted!

  5. Nicole: You astonish me - you've got it down to a science! With me it's almost an all or nothing thing, so I envy your approach.

    Alena: Best of luck to you as well!

    Chloe: I wove you, come see me. Ditto to the music thing.

    Laura: My hubby is about to graduate with his PhD and got a post doc position in Denmark, so we'll be going for two years at the end of next month! So excited!


( hippies always welcome )