This August, after thirteen years as a resident of Bloomington, Indiana, I will be packing up and moving east, resettling in the suburbs of Boston while my husband begins his post-doc fellowship with Harvard University.
I’ve spent most of the last few months in denial. Which means no packing has been accomplished. No cleaning, no sorting, no purging. Nothing.
But now, with that immutable deadline looming — the lease on our house does run out on July 31, after all — I’m finally biting the bullet and grabbing what spare moments I can to whittle down the last decade or so of my life into some form that can make it to Massachusetts.
The process is taking as much an emotional as physical toll, so to get myself through it, I’m turning to the only form of therapy I’m willing to subject myself to: writing.
I’m starting with my office, as that is without a doubt the most challenging room in the house (as anyone who’s been inside can attest). It’s the catch-all room, my desk a veritable magnet for papers and books and miscellaneous writing utensils.
Then there are books. Oh, my god, the books…
I won’t get into it right now, but when it comes the purchasing of books, I have a serious problem. I’m about to pack up volumes that haven’t been read since the last time I moved. And that’s not for lack of trying — most of them are bookmarked somewhere around the end of the second chapter, which is generally how far I get before getting too busy to finish, or distracted by something new and shiny. But once I’ve started a book, I feel duty-bound to finish it. Which means I can’t get rid of any of them. They must remain a part of my library until some distant, glorious period of my life when I can actually devote sufficient time to monographs on the 1919 Paris peace conference or political biographies of Henry Clay and James Monroe.
What’s also frustrating is the collection of articles I’d started accumulating six or seven years ago.
At that time — and at various times since — I fancied myself an up and coming political blogger. So I’d hang on to any New Yorker or Atlantic piece I thought might one day become a useful reference.
Guess how many times I’ve referred to any of them?
But again, I have a difficult time removing them. On the one hand, most (if not all) of the material I’ve held onto is available online. On the other hand, much of it contains marginalia — reactions and questions — that I’d scribbled in as I read. On the other other hand, what good is marginalia that never gets used because my writing output has been reduced to practically nothing?
Moving is complicated.