Never Enough Tape

“You know you need to start packing, what are you waiting for? “

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The stack of flattened boxes mocks me.
“You know you need to start packing, what are you waiting for?” they whisper each time I walk past them.
I consciously ignore the niggling realization that I am not ready to move.

Well, I am ready. I think. I’m ready in the sense that it is my decision to move and I’ve spent months deliberating over it. I’m ready in the sense that I’m starting to get my visa in order … and I have a one way ticket. It’s easy to handle life through my finger tips. All I have to do is sit on my couch, cup of tea next to me, sending emails and documents around the world. That’s the easy part. The part I hate is taking down the home that I’ve meticulously (or not so meticulously) set up in the apartment that was just a plain white box when I arrived. That’s the hard part. The part where I have to make a million tiny decisions that I might deeply regret later. Do I pack this mug? How much do I really love it? Do I really need these shoes? What about this picture frame? What if I get to my new place and I really miss these bread pans? These thoughts alternately swirl and buzz through my brain; popping up and forcing their way to the forefront of my thoughts every chance they get.

So there the boxes lie, propped up against the wall, waiting for me to dig up my packing tape and start compartmentalizing my life.

You should know that in the past three years, this is the third time I’ve packed up my home and moved. In the past 7 years, I’ve lived in 4 houses and two countries. I am no stranger to packing. At this point Packing is almost like that person you’re friends with because you have to and then they always show up at the most inconvenient times. So this time around Packing showed up and demanded that I spend time with her whether I wanted to or not. And, just like always, Packing and I got into an argument over how much stuff I really have and how much of it I really need to take with me. I’ve discovered that I never think I have as much stuff as I do and invariably I’m in the throes of wrapping bowls in bubble wrap when I discover that I’m out of tape. And just like that I find myself wracked with guilt over the sheer quantity of stuff that I, a single person living alone, have acquired. Its embarrassing, really. Did I really need that chef’s knife? Did I really need that lamp? At the moment of purchase I believed with my whole heart that, yes, I did need the chef’s knife and the lamp but now that I’m packing I’m not sure if I should take it with me. Sometimes it’s not so much a question of should I take it with me but can I? Is it even a possibility? Through the process of packing and unpacking entire households I’ve learned a few things.

1) There are somethings you truly cannot live without. For me, the items on this list include a teapot, a sharp chef’s knife and a frying pan. If, for some reason, These items aren’t in my boxes upon arrival, then I’m off to the nearest Walmart, bacala or Lulu’s to find them.

2) Moving is expensive – even if I think I’ve packed everything with me…there will still be things that I need to replace/start over with. When I moved to Kuwait I learned that a sharp chef’s knife was a must have. The apartment I was in came furnished (for which I am eternally grateful) but the knives were so sad that cutting butter was a chore, never mind the onions and garlic! A not-so-quick trip to Ikea saved the day.
3) Stuff is just that: stuff. At the end of the day, when I look around my apartment, the boxes piled atop each other, little pieces of tape hanging off the table I’m hit with a wave of fear that these boxes might not end up where they are supposed to go. What if they get lost? What if they are damaged? What if someone steals my stuff? But it’s just stuff. Do I really want to measure the success of my life by how many boxes I fill? Should my life be reduced to the number of  rolls of tape it took to wrap it up? I hope not…

Life lessons not withstanding, invariably I find myself standing over those empty boxes agonizing over all of my earthly treasures that I have to fit in there somehow.  As always, I find that I have more stuff than I thought I did and when I’m  in the throes of wrapping bowls in bubble wrap, I discover that I’m out of tape.

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