By 8:58 AM, I had burned myself on hot oil, cut myself on a can, and stepped on something sharp, either a tiny piece of glass or a thorn. When I turned around too fast and hit my elbow on my vacuum cleaner, I knew it was probably time to go back to bed. But I have a belief that keeps me going on days like today — the earthquake theory of karma. Basically, when lots of little things are going wrong, I think it’s the universe’s way of bleeding off your bad luck, like the tiny earthquakes that can alleviate stress on a fault line and prevent a major earthquake from happening. So when I’m poking at my foot, trying to figure out what just caused that drop of blood and whether it’s still in there, I’m trying to remember to be grateful that I’m not going to get in a car accident today or drop dead from a heart attack or experience whatever big bad luck might have been headed my way.
Yes, I know it’s ridiculous. But it’s still comforting.
And I’m feeling the need of comforting. I keep reminding myself that this is my choice, my decision, and I can change my mind if I want to. But the fun part of my adventure is a long way away. I’m currently in the stressful part of deciding what needs to be done before I can put the house on the market and what I’m going to keep and how. I’ve done this kind of major purge before, but not nearly as extreme as I’m planning to do it now. When I moved from California to Florida, I got rid of everything… or rather, everything that didn’t have sentimental value. That is a really important distinction.
In the ten years since, I’ve gained lots and lots of stuff, some of it just from living, which is easy to let go of, if tedious to go through, but plenty of it from processes that give it sentimental value. So I look around my room now. There’s a LLadro centaur sitting on my bookcase. I bought it in Spain when I was 17 years old. It lived in my parents house until my mom died, but now I have it. Am I getting rid of it?
Next to it is the entire collected works of Lois McMaster Bujold, everything except her last book, which I have electronically. Am I keeping them? In the corner is a Beanie Baby hedgehog, one of the only stuffed animals left from when Rory was that age. He had dozens, of course, as kids do, but they’re all gone, except for this little hedgehog that’s been keeping me company for the past ten years. Can I say good-bye? In front of it, a tile with Rory’s five-year-old handprint on it. How can I possibly toss that out? And on, and on, and on, it goes.
But I’m basically choosing to re-purchase everything that gets stored. If I rent a storage unit big enough for some items of furniture, it will probably cost $100/month, for a 10 x 10 unit, for maybe at most 400 usable square feet. (I’m calculating 10 x 10 x 4 feet high, but obviously it could be taller. Equally obviously, nothing packs without some room for air, and I can’t just stack all my possessions neatly to the ceiling, so not all the space can be used.) Say I live in the RV for three years, minimum. (And I think those three years will fly by — it could be much longer.) Every item is costing me some portion of $3600. Would I spend $9 on my Lladro centaur? Sure thing. On my Beanie Baby hedgehog… hmm. $50 for the collected works of Bujold? A bargain, but if I was in the bookstore, I wouldn’t choose to spend $50 that way. For Rory’s handprint? Maybe I’ll just drop that on the floor and keep my fingers crossed that it breaks, heartless mother that I am.
I own three sets of china: my mother’s, my grandmother’s, and my great-grandmother’s. The sentimental value is obviously enormous. When I use my grandmother’s plates, I remember Christmas dinners in Bethlehem, putting olives on my fingers, wiggling in my seat while I waited for a pause in the conversation before I could ask to be excused. When I use my great-grandmother’s dishes, I think of her and I think of my aunt, who sent them to me. When I use my mom’s china… you get the picture. But I hardly ever use any of it. Does it really make sense to put it in a storage unit racking up costs indefinitely? It’s not like R wants to inherit three sets of china.
Meanwhile, of course, I’ve barely managed to write a word of Grace because I’ve been so distracted. I write sentences here and there but the chapter I’m in is the hellish “time passes” chapter. I was joking to my friend Lynda yesterday that I should really just write, “Chapter Seventeen, Time passes. Chapter Eighteen,” and get on with it. While walking the dogs this morning I told myself firmly that there is no putting the house on the market until the book is done, so the longer I delay on the book, the longer everything will take. It’s a good mental promise, but instead of coming home and starting to write, I came home and started to clean out the garage. But I am making that commitment — I’m going to finish the book before I try to sell the house. I’ll just be doing all the stuff to get ready to sell the house along the way.
Tomorrow I pick up R in Sarasota for spring break. While he’s home, we’ll go through all this stuff and see what tough decisions he wants to make. I have a feeling it’ll be easy for him and he’ll say “toss it all” but I’ve still got lots of his toys so there might be some serious nostalgia happening first. The Playmobil train is definitely going to be hard to say good-bye to. I might have to set it up and play with it a little first. And somewhere there are some Thomas the Tank Engine pieces that I really might simply not be able to let go of.
So, decisions, decisions. It’s not going to be easy!