Here I go again, through the door of the kitchen into the deep wilds of the garage. There was a time, 5 years ago or so, when we were new to this house and there was some spaciousness here. But those days are long gone. There is a single path about two feet wide leading to the garage door. On either side, it is more or less jammed: boxes, (as well as a stack of 32-gallon totes conveying at least a little bit of order fantasy), old chairs, boxes of photos and photo books, old journals, books and books and more books, tools (some that get used, others that hardly do), ornaments, strings of lights, old cameras, a 50-year-old projector screen that is waiting for a super 8 projector, a wedding dress in a suitcase, a gaming table that was my grandmother’s. We joke that the garage is the descending colon of our house, and that we are domestically constipated. But now, we are preparing for the move. The Move. So we can no longer avoid the need to void.

[The Move consists of leaving our home for an unknown destination, focusing on an initial journey of 6 months which will take us to a few different countries in Europe. So we are not moving from one house to another pre-determined one; we are instead downsizing drastically, storing what we cannot part with, housing our dog with friends, selling our cars, and worldschooling ourselves. More on The Move to come.]

Sure moving is stressful, up there with losing a loved one and being audited. And I know for me, a huge part of the stress is not knowing what’s coming, and what I might need. (Okay, the projector screen can go, probably why it’s closest to the door). And then there’s the challenge of throwing away personal items, like the boxes of slides and negatives, the journals, letters and cards… None of which holds much value in the outside world. I am the last stop before the landfill, and throwing it away just hurts. Sure, I could go through it all and scan what I feel might be worth holding onto. But then, I quickly recognize this for what it comes to be, a delay tactic. The question of when this culling and scanning might happen is not to be answered anytime soon.

I feel lost, and no amount of the ever-present Marie Kondo and her mystical tidiness spellcasting of joy-sparking can save me… I am in the deep of my own mines. The door to the kitchen is now figuratively obscured in the avalanche of stuffy thoughts that leaves me exhausted. There is no gas left, no spark, no joy.

I feel gloomy, overwhelmed. Needing a win, I shred a ream of tax documents from 10 years ago. This is an easy target, but even still, I find myself getting distracted, as care becomes curiosity: healthcare was so much cheaper back then. And so was insurance… Hey, that was a great dinner, I remember that night…

I realize part of the stress of the early part of this move is that it is a self-audit, too. I am taking stock of my life to this point, and getting a little lost in thinking I am things, or that they attach to me in this way that might make my life more solid. And that is a way to get lost in these mines of mine, searching for purchase, for poetry of connection, for an embodied sense of well-being: the reminder that I’m here, that I’m okay.

I get through that box of taxes and my thoughts of self-audit, and then I go to the bookshelves and let go of some books I have had for decades, meaning to read, meaning to revisit. Into a box they go, to be donated to the library. This feels good. The books have weight that brings me back to the task. And that these books will move on to bring someone else happiness during the library’s book sale gives me joy.

I stand up straight. I breathe into my belly.

I put the box of books next to the projector screen at the garage door. Soon it will open, and all this will be free. And so, maybe, will I.

Nick Sholley