We are planning to move. Which means we are packing. Endless. Amounts. Of stuff. Usually this process inspires the thought: WHY DO I HAVE SO MUCH CRAP? Not for me. Not this time. This time is different. As I put the (incredibly-annoying-always-splits-in-the-middle) packing tape on the 45th box (yes, I counted) I had this thought: “WHY DO MY HUSBAND AND CHILDREN HAVE SO MUCH CRAP?” Seriously, I think only three of the boxes were mine.
I’m not saying I don’t hold on to things. Sure, I have notes that my friends passed to me during junior high school squirreled away in a box somewhere. Sure, I refuse to throw out my mix tapes from the ’80s. (FINE, the ’90s.) And, YES, I keep them despite the fact that I no longer having anything that will actually PLAY a tape. But none of this. NONE of this, holds a candle to the amount of stuff that my husband has.
No, Dan is not a hoarder. Or even a pack rat. Actually, he’s a reasonably minimalist person. He just has two very well developed hobbies. First, his techno-philia. This man never met a computer he didn’t like. I’ve written about this before. When Dan and I first moved in together, Dan brought six computers. That’s right, SIX. He has since whittled that number down considerably. NOT because our electric bill was out of control. And NOT because the computers raised the temperature of the house by at least fifteen degrees in the summertime. Most of the computers made their exit after Dan shut down the dot-com he was running. Nonetheless, Dan still has an impressive supply of keyboards and cords and whosie-whatsits and gadgety-thingies. Several large plastic tubs full. “Do you really still want all these?!?” I asked him the other day. He looked at me as though I were referring to our children.
And then there is the second hobby. The bigger issue. The books. When Dan and I moved into that first apartment together he brought THIRTY-FIVE boxes of books. No exaggeration. I know this because he numbered the boxes. So, just out of curiosity, I pointed to a random box and said . . .
Me: What kind of books do you have in box #24?
Dan: I have no idea.
Me: So . . . you numbered them all but you didn’t write down what was in each box?
Me: Then what was the point?
Dan (irritated eyeroll): So I’d know if any of the boxes were missing.
Just so I’m sure I’m not missing something . . . WHY NOT JUST COUNT THEM?!? There was no time to ask. Dan had already disappeared behind the wall of boxes in our living room.
You know who else has a lot of stuff? Our kids. Which is odd. Because– to my knowledge– neither of them has a credit card. And we’re not the type of parents who are always buying stuff for them. But apparently, if you are small and cute people just give you stuff. (Really, this is a shame because it is likely to completely undermine their desire to someday work for a living.) Seriously, Jacob just SHOWS UP at Snip-Its for a hair cut and someone GIVES HIM a prize. Sometimes Emma (still far too bald for a haircut) gets one too. Or the kids SHOW UP for a birthday party and someone GIVES THEM goody bags. I’m telling you, it’s a pretty good gig.
So here’s the thing. Despite the fact that MOST of the stuff in our house is NOT mine, who do you think will end up packing it all up? Sure, Dan would do it if given the opportunity. I’m not sure I can take that risk. Flash back again to when Dan and I first moved in together. I’m unpacking some of Dan’s boxes. One is labeled “kitchen stuff”. I remove from this box: gardening tools, a legal pad filled with notes, power cords, and small electronics. I walk over to Dan in the living room (standing behind a wall of book boxes and diligently placing one book at a time into our lone book case). In one hand, I am holding a spade, in the other, an extension cord.
Me: Daniel, how is this ‘kitchen stuff’??
Dan (again annoyed by having to explain the obvious): It’s all stuff that I used to keep in my kitchen.
If he packs. WE. WILL. NEVER. FIND. ANYTHING.
And then there is Jacob, my four-and-a-half year old who would also happily pack up the entire house (RIGHT NOW) if given the chance. Yes, Jacob would love nothing more than to wrap each of our earthly belongings– including the pillows– in bubble wrap. Until this past weekend we thought we were going to need to vacate our home at the end of April. (Instead, the buyers are letting us rent-back for a few additional months.) So we began a flurry of packing. And each morning, Jacob awoke and asked me breathlessly, “Mommy, is there anything BREAKABLE you need to pack?? I’LL HELP.”
Dear Jacob, I love that you want to help. Now please, for the love of G-d, stop twirling that vase over your head.