For me, the year waxes and wanes with the school year. Fall term begins as we enter into September. Classes begin tomorrow. So the year is just starting for me. Being on campus the past few days, I’ve seen the strange influx of students and enthusiasm. I’ve also just finished moving into a new apartment!
I know a lot of people find packing and unpacking to be stressful. My friends never seemed to stop complaining about it this summer. Most of them never really finished unpacking by the time they needed to prep for the fall move in. Frazzled, they live out of suitcases even as the unpacking is put off for another weekend. Then as the fall term approaches, the half opened boxes are rushed back to the new dorm room. Students have so much packing and unpacking to do each year! Yet each time is a struggle!
Personally, I find packing to be kind of refreshing. Packing is the only time we really engage with everything we own. It’s when I’m packing that I recognize how much I hoard. I’m amazed by what I have squirreled away, not just physically but also the memories associated with bundled up scarves and the tactile experience of laying my hands through every book I own. Packing is when my body of possessions is fully in my body of knowledge. There’s something very particular about the smell of packing; the old smell of forgotten belongings mixed with the clean smell of just having tidied up. Usually, it’s an emotional feeling – of fullness, of being provided for, of remembering – that is reassuring. I am the whole house, floor to ceiling, as I fold myself up into boxes.
Packing is funny too because it changes the character of the space you live in. With all my things in boxes, the old apartment seemed bigger. Echoes bounced around the apartment without furniture or rugs. My cat started to sprint back and forth between the open rooms, her path unobstructed. Desolate rooms dedicated to stacks of boxes are abandoned. I bustle into my bedroom, the last bastion of unpacked comfort, to eat and relax.
During the process of packing, I started to think of the new place as home. After all, it was the focus of my thoughts so much of the time! Where will this go in the new place, I’d ask myself as I wrapped things in newspaper. What color bookshelves would open up the main room, I’d ponder over Ikea catalogues. I have so many plans and dreams for the new place: the dinner parties I’d host, the evenings curled in my new sofa, even the commute back was ruminated on.
Now that I have the key to the new place and have turned in the key for the old, I’m feeling all sorts of strange emotions. I’m excited and exhilarated. The weight of the old place is removed. I feel doubt, worrying whether I chose the right place (and price) to move into. I’m buoyed by the thought of decorating absolutely to my taste, of the new plush sofa and convenience of a dishwasher. This new move doesn’t quite feel like home, even though I think of it that way. Lying out with my cat on the carpet, it still smells like the cleaning service and not like me. Not everything has settled into nooks and crannies of routine. I fiddle around with things, bustling the new fruit bowl from one side of the kitchen to the other, to see where it really fits. I’ve invested a lot in this move, not just financially but emotionally as well. I want this year to begin with momentum to keep going. Having a home to return to is really the key to that, I hope.
The year is beginning. It’s a time for starting over, creating something new.