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Camping Mode

This morning, I received a bit of good news: my dogs were cleared for take-off (as it were), so I have a date of departure for our move to Wales. It's not for another couple of weeks, but there is still much to do between now and then.

In particular, I need to finish packing up my house and actually move out. And also, I'm spending a week housesitting for my friends in Seattle who were kind enough to shelter me & my dogs earlier in the year when the wildfire smoke made life in Bend untenable for an asthmatic like myself. And that petsitting gig starts about a week from today.


I confess, I've been sort of limping along and fooling myself that I've made "real progress," in selling off furniture on Craigslist & Facebook, in having made several runs to the charity shops to donate smaller (but still usable!) items, in having taken a carload of (unsellable, unusable) stuff to the landfill. But the cold hard truth is, after all that -- not unlike someone on a diet who has deceived themselves into thinking they've toned up and lost a few pounds -- my house looks fairly similar now to how it did before I had plans to move. In other words, more paring down is necessary. It's time to go into Camping Mode.

When I arrived in Bend last summer, I had nearly nothing. Everything but the bare necessities was on a moving truck somewhere between Anchorage and Bend, and while I can't remember how long it took for that stuff to arrive, I do recall it was much longer than I'd originally been promised. Needing at least a few tools of modern living, I ended up popping over to the charity shops to find myself a plate, a fork, a tea mug, a pot to boil water. For "furniture" I purchased a lawn chair, to tide me over until real furniture arrived.

And it felt like camping. I was eating mostly easy meals or those already pre-prepared, like those salad kits you can buy, the ones with the dressing and croutons already enclosed. I didn't have a television so watched movies on my phone. Had to use garish overhead lighting instead of the ambient light from a couple of nice floor lamps (my preference). In other words, it wasn't great, but it was livable. Do-able. I now need to do that in reverse.

It's difficult to give up one's "stuff" when it's so close at hand and there's no immediate pressing need. As an example, I packed up my plates and silverware, and most of the rest of my kitchen, a couple weeks ago. But as those boxes are still here, in the house, I've gradually reopened them, one by one, to pull something "necessary" out: the can opener, the microtome, the muffin pans. Now my kitchen is mostly back to how it was before I'd so proudly packed up "early." It's all re-exploded back onto the countertops and bookshelves.

And books, well, don't get me started. Impossible to part with, even that goddamn Knausgaard volume that plagues my book world: I feel like I "should" read it, I don't really want to read it, then I read a little bit of it and think, Well, yeah, I might actually want to read this. I'd wager a solid twenty bucks I'll go to my grave never having read the thing. But damn if I can throw it out.

And Shakespeare. Oh, Willy boy, you're a lovely read but also really really heavy. And, my friendly bard, FedEx charges by the pound. It's not as if I wouldn't be able to find any of his works in any library (especially in the UK!), but it seems blasphemous to leave it behind, much less discard it.

Regardless, these various piles of books and clothing, dishes and toiletries, aren't going to sort themselves. It's time to get brutal. Pare it down to the equivalent of what I can carry in the equivalent of a backpack: a small stove, one pan/dish, a spork (because carrying both a spoon and a fork is unnecessary extra weight -- ask any camper!), minimal wardrobe options (Do I really need both pairs of hiking boots in the next week? I do not), and so on.

No sense delaying the inevitable. Time to be "cruel to be kind." I'll be grateful at the money I'll save in shipping, and at the light and breezy (Ha!) way I cruise through the airport with minimal baggage. But for right now, it's time to go kill my darlings, and roll out the sleeping bag instead.


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