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Moving out

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I moved last week.

If you haven’t moved in awhile, you may rest assured that it’s still awful.

It’s amazing how much miscellaneous stuff can fit into 800 square feet of one-bedroom apartment.

No, this is not going to be one of those anguished, “We have too much stuff,” stories.

Maybe we collectively do. Maybe you do. If so then get rid of some. Moving is good for that.

Over the last few weeks, I sorted out my stuff and my connections to it.

Some things are obviously necessary – food and objects essential to basic food preparation, hygiene, clothing, important papers. A computer with Internet connection is now necessary, too.

There’s a subset of necessities that seems to be where the slide starts, though.

You don’t need a shower curtain for bathing, but it helps greatly. You don’t need metal utensils and ceramic plates, either (I lived on paper and plastic for the last 2 weeks), but these things are comfortable.

If comfort is a combination of safety and connection/belonging with a dash of fun then comfort is necessary on an emotional level, albeit not on the level of physical survival.

I spent the last year without a television. It wasn’t a social experiment. I just couldn’t find a cable package that I liked.

There were times when I missed the information about the larger world provided by television. I did not miss the illusion of relationships.

Sometimes, I was grateful for the silence in which I could hear my own thoughts.

Sometimes, I missed the fun of watching the half-dozen or so shows that I like. Fun is a basic human need, too, though paying for 400 channels that I won’t watch is wasteful.

Comfort objects seem to be an addendum to the pile of stuff that we need, not quite landing in the pile of stuff that we want, which is to say, luxuries.

Necessary items can become luxuries based on quantity. I’m sure that I don’t need all of the t-shirts and sweat shirts that I’ve accumulated over the years, even though clothing is a basic need.

There is a clear moral line when we love objects, not in the slang sense, as a synonym for “really like,” but truly love things.

We set ourselves up to mistreat other persons, who deserve our love, in defense of those objects, which don’t deserve or reciprocate our love, and that’s wrong and selfish and destructive.

If you read this column regularly (thank you) then you know about the changes in my family that happened in November 2013 and July 2012.

As I packed, I was acutely aware that there will be a day when there is no more “Me” and thus no more “My” or “Mine.”

In the days and weeks after that first day without me, someone (I hope, someone who knew and loved me) will sort my stuff into piles of “keep” and “sell” and “donate to charity” and “give away” and “recycle” and “trash.”

All of those Lewes Polar Bear sweatshirts won’t matter to anyone else. Depending on who handles my estate, some might survive as relics of a relationship and a life with me, but most are headed to the trash when I die.

Again, that’s where the relationship comes in.

If a husband drops his wife’s favorite coffee mug, that’s unpleasant, sure, but if the broken mug leads to a crack in the relationship? When you bought that mug, did you expect it to last forever?

Kept or not, “forever” is the promise that you made to your spouse, so which is more important in that moment amid the coffee and the shards?

There’s nothing wrong with comfort, fun, or luxuries, but every purchase is really a rental.

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