Mr. Noodle

Mr. Noodle
Mr. Noodle

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How much stuff does a person need, anyway?

I am not a person who has a strong personal attachment to things. I don't know where that came from, but I have often credited it with my early pursuit of Buddhism. Not having an attachment to things comes in very handy when, say, getting ready to move house. Throughout my whole adult life I have moved house a lot. I could try to count, but I think I would lose count at about 20. The longest I have lived in one place was two and a half years, in East Sooke.

When we moved from East Sooke to Ucluelet, we did get rid of a lot of stuff but it seems like we took a lot too. We also seemed to acquire rather a lot while we were there. We had a big house to fill, after all. Dan has an amazing ability to scavenge and repair things, such as aluminum boats and theater seats.

When we knew we would be moving to North Carolina, we agreed that we would only take what would fit into the back of his truck (aka the floundertruck), a 1986 Nissan 720, and my truck, a 1999 Ford F150. We spent two weeks getting rid of as much stuff as we could, inviting friends and acquaintances to come by and pick through everything, take it all away, please. The theater seats went first, oddly enough. Sofas and tables and shelves were highly coveted.

Dan left on May 25th. I spent the next several weeks doing further culling, which included (eventually) three trips to the dump, a garage sale, and a trip to the thrift store. I drove away from Ucluelet on July 2. I spent a week on the south end of Vancouver Island and then headed for Alberta, to stay with my sister until immigration came through. We all know how that went. When it came time to leave, I did a further culling and reduced the volume of my stuff by half.

Returned to the Island on September 30th after being rejected at the border, then unloaded all the stuff from my truck into the basement of The Stately, the basement of Dan's mum & stepdad, where I was to reside for just over two months. I have now been in Cowichan Bay for a month, and just today I popped by The Stately to get some things out of storage.

I was looking for a few specific things. I found a new home for my beloved vacuum cleaner, so that's one awkward thing that I won't have to take with me. I will use up the rest of the bag of pine kitty litter. I found a couple of books and magazines that I can read here and then give away. Found a pair of old socks that I am not especially fond of and don't really plan to wear them ever again, wonder how they had made the cut of the first few cullings.

The news from yesterday, the whole 'five months' thing and the possibility of me going to North Carolina on a temporary visa to wait out my immigration has not surprisingly reframed how I am looking at my situation. If I am going to fly there and leave all my stuff (including my truck!) here in British Columbia, what will be the essentials that I take with me; what can I not live without for a few months while I am reestablishing myself in Kinston? Well, I don't know. It will depend on how much I am allowed, and how much extra luggage costs.

The most important thing of course will be the kitty. She hates traveling by plane and is terrified of being in a box/cage/kennel. I didn't want to have to do that to her, but in the bigger picture, it might be better to just get her there in 14-16 hours of travel rather than six or seven days in the truck. Yes she'll hate the trip, bit it will be over quickly.

And then what else? I have been thinking about this all day. Lately, as I have been interested in my Russian roots, I have been watching a lot of films and documentaries about Russia and Europe, many of which are set in the first half of the 20th century. There are so many tales of displacement and evacuation. If you were forced to leave your home forever, what are the important things? I realize that I am not in such a dramatic position, but really, what do you need on a daily basis and what can you live without?

The other night I asked the Skipper about photos of himself when he was younger. He had a massive stash of them and we were able to see what he looked like at all ages. That, and the beautiful photo album Dan's sister gave me for Christmas full of photos of Dan when he was younger, made me realize that there are probably very few photos in existence of me when I was younger. I know I don't have that many - I have moved too many times. The few that my mum had (she fled her crappy marriage with my dad on a day's notice, so didn't have much) may not have been saved from the mold-ridden basement suite she lived in back in the 90s. I doubt my sister would have many of me and well, I'm pretty much done communicating with my father. So probably I'll just have to draw photos of myself.

At any rate, back to the topic at hand, what would I take with me if I was boarding a plane for North Carolina? I'm not sure I would bring my entire yarn stash. Gasp! you say. Well no, I don't actually have that much yarn anymore. I would actually bring all my tools though - all my needles and hooks and notions. I don't own very much clothing anymore. I can't recall if I told you all those months ago - before I left Alberta in the fall, Dan had told me not to buy clothing because everything is cheaper in the States. So I didn't. I just had a small selection of summer clothing. With all the weight I had lost, most of my stuff didn't fit me anymore anyway. So, when I ended up coming back to Vancouver Island to spend the winter here, I had almost no winter clothing. I had one wool sweater and a couple of hoodies and some jeans. (Lots of hand knit wool socks though!) Dan's mum lent me a sweater dress and then decided I should just have it. Zola lent me a pile of sweaters (I still have one of them, and it will be returned to her). Toni had a big stack of clothes she no longer wore or no longer fit, so I have been getting a lot of mileage out of all these lent garments. Most of them will stay here in Canada though, so there will not be a lot of clothing coming with me either.

So then what? My computer, obviously. Dan has a Kindle now, so I don't really need to bring books. I will use the library anyway. Believe it or not, I will probably fill my luggage with small kitchen utensils. Again, we'll see what I'm allowed to bring.

Which leads me to something else - I don't own luggage. I have a 40 litre backpack and that's it. This raises another question then - would I be able to use Rubbermaid bins as my luggage or will I have to go and buy something? I am probably putting the cart before the horse here, because at the moment we aren't even allowed to apply for my temporary visa, so me actually boarding a plane is unimaginable. This is what happens to me when I have lots of time to myself to think, my mind gets me into trouble.

My last consideration in all this is while I'm waiting for immigration in North Carolina, what would I actually be doing? Believe me, I have no problem filling my hours. Between my computer (Twitter, blogging, podcasts & movies) and my knitting, I'm happy as a clam. I can go running (if I'm there by March, my friends-I-haven't-met-yet and I will be running an 8k race). I can be the Queen of My Kitchen! And, I suspect, we'll be doing a lot of entertaining. So that just means I'll need to make sure I also bring my running gear and my party dress.

So... dear reader, if you were in my situation, what would your essentials be, what could you not live without?

One of my most precious possessions: a one-cup pour-over coffee filter cone that I bought in Japan for 100 Yen. That thing goes everywhere with me.


  1. My books (precious, precious books!) were the first thing I got rid of when I moved away from Edmonton. I'd been carrying them around since I left Montréal (and kept adding to the collection every semester), but I got tired. I kept a few that I didn't want to part with, and sold the rest for a minimal price to other students.

  2. One thing I would need to take would be my camera. My collection of headgear needs to come with me too, hats and scarves. You are right, yarn and patterns are easily replaced. Maybe my newly acquired spinning wheel would need to come with me. Other than that, I think I could live without most of my things.

  3. Hey! I think we have a big suitcase that we were going to get rid of and/or replace--cause we're NOT moving regularly anymore, nor are we EVER going on a trip with more than one small checked bag (if that!). Remind me to look! xxT

  4. I've been moving things for 5 years now, filling up every space left in my huge luggage whenever I went over. Having put our US belongings in storage almost 3 yrs ago, we've started to forget what's in there. On a quest to find a kettle this last trip, we found some things that got us a little excited!
    One day we'll regain some of our treasures, and get rid of a lot of stuff we don't have a use for anymore!

    Having boxed most of my 1k+ books for years now, I'm not as attached as I was, but there was I time they told the story of who I was and I don't think I'd like to do without them. Besides them, there are my mugs, and my grandmother's soup bowls. I ate soup from them every single sunday of my childhood. They have to come. My stash. My laptop and HD. My wheel. My picture albums. My hiking boots.

    I'm planning to ship a crate, as you can tell ;)