October 2, 2007
Here I am all up in the air about another life change and wondering if that means there's something wrong with me. I remember a lifelong friend, when we were in our early 30's, saying to me, "Have you ever noticed that every five years you change your whole life?"
Psychiatrists say there are a finite number of personality types. Surely this tendency to overturn and uproot is an aspect of one -- "the mover," perhaps. "The hysteric," perhaps. "The seeker," perhaps. I and other movers would probably prefer the latter -- it sounds so lofty and poetic.
I've lived in Fairhope for 19 years now, having lived my first 20 here and then taking off to other climes for a good 40 (divided not in five-year increments, but close to it if you count the moves-within-moves). Over this recent period of time in Fairhope I've lived in six different abodes. I really thought The Captain's House would be the last in my life, and that I'd stay here until I was ready for assisted living. I thought I'd stick it out for another 20 years or so. I spent considerable time and money feathering this nest with furniture and accessories that I felt enhanced the Fairhope ambiance of the place, from Mission antiques (the furniture style I remember from older homes here in my childhood) to the addition of air conditioning for 21st Century needs. I attended yard sales, went to Thrift Shops, antique auctions, and actually invested in a few rather expensive antique pieces over 20 years.
Now that I'm fixin' to move again I'm beginning to think it's other people who are wrong. They are bound to stay in the same place year after year for one main reason. Going through their stuff -- editing, purging, and just plain cleaning up -- is too damn hard. I watch "Mission: Organization" on HGTV, and "Everything Must Go!" on BBC America, and I see the kind of homes most people live in; I see their attachment to their stuff. In recent days have conditioned myself to look at every piece in my house individually and decide if I can live without it, and if so, put it in the yard sale pile or plan to give it away. I put all the small things into cartons, and deal with the cartons one by one, picking up every piece of paper, every object, looking at it, and making a decision.
It ain't easy, but in a way it's kind of fun. It's a wonderful feeling to be shed of the piles of stuff in the closets. I don't know how many cartons, files, and drawers full of papers I had labelled "Writings," I have found in my recent purges. I don't know what makes people today think they need so many clothes. I don't know who will want to buy my pottery collection, or my Mission furniture, but I don't see any of it fetching much in the marketplace. I'm even going to sell my car and travel by the great New Jersey rail system, saving money on insurance, upkeep, and gasoline as I go forward into the sunset.
And I don't care what anybody says, it's the people who don't move who are missing something. If you're standing still you're probably not getting anywhere. I may not be either, but staying here is going backward. I know why people don't move.