amw (amw) wrote,

postcards from a furnished apartment

When you only have a backpack (and after my last weekend in Canada, a suitcase) to your name, even a studio apartment can have secrets. I moved in here October 1st last year, unpacked my clothes onto a spare shelf, put my toilet bag on the ledge in the bathroom, and bought some food to put in the fridge. The next five months continued pretty much the same way. I never considered to explore all the drawers and cabinets unless i was specifically looking for something. That something initially being cooking utensils and subsequently cleaning materials. But there was already a broom in the corner and a dustpan and brush under the sink, so my search stopped there. Imagine my surprise a few weeks ago when i opened the other half of the closet for the first time and found a vacuum cleaner in there. Today i finally vacuumed, getting 5 months worth of dust bunnies out of hard-to-reach nooks and stubborn crannies. Spring cleaning? I guess so. I also discovered you can open the mirror in the bathroom and put stuff behind it. Huh.

One thing i have learned in the last 8 months or so is that stuff is pretty much irrelevant to me. I am still wearing the same 3 hoodies and 5 tops i started this journey with, and after some initial self-consciousness at work over recycling outfits, i realized i didn't care. I am much more interested in the world around me than i am in what i own myself. I love seeing fashionable people, i love seeing all my friends' knick-knacks, but i hate having all that shit myself - a fact i'm reminded of every time i move. What matters to me isn't the stuff, it's the places i visit, the people i meet, the experiences i have. I need my computer to keep a record and i need my phone to stay in touch, but everything else is superfluous. I am living in the doctor's waiting room of apartments, but it's still my home, because i am the one with the key. And when i get kicked out in May i'll pack up my backpack and suitcase and find a key for someplace else. I have lived in some truly beautiful houses over the years - highlights being T's place in the US and my converted fire station in Melbourne - but at the end of the day the only thing that really matters is knowing i can come home to a bed, a bathroom, a kitchen and an internet connection.

I still have a ton of boxes at R's house. I gave away most of my shit when i left Toronto, but even giving things away can be a hassle; i ended up with 3 extra boxes of comics because no one could get their shit together to pick them up. I also kept all the ornaments i owned that were either gifts or memorabilia of someplace or other. And all my CDs. And you know what? It's been 8 months now and i don't miss any of it. I have more than enough to read online. I have my journal and my photos to remind me of good times and bad. I rarely listen to old music because every month hundreds of great new tracks come out, and they all fit onto a NAS the size of a Gideon's Bible, or a phone the size of a deck of cards. Why would i ever want to go back to surrounding myself with a bunch of shit that just lies around dusty and unused? Why would i want to drag all that crap from one house to the next whenever my lease runs out or i want to go somewhere new? I know a lot of people get pleasure out of sitting around looking at their stuff, but for me that just makes me feel weighed down and depressed. Instead, without stuff i am always conscious that this too shall pass, and i think it's that more than anything that has let me cast away my neuroses and just live right fucking now.

I wish i could go back to all my therapists over the years and say, "remember all those mindfulness sessions where you kept trying to get me to close my eyes and focus on my breathing? Why didn't you just tell me to give away all my shit and go live on my own instead?" One of my ex-colleagues called me a vagabond when i left. It made me smile because i am way too bourgeois to ever become a wandering hippie, but i guess in a lot of ways my values do align more with the bohemians in the squat down the road than my neighbors with their clothes and bikes and kids. Except for, you know, that whole white collar thing. I think i am going to have a coffee and erdbeertorte while i contemplate my descent into Kerouacian navel-gazing.

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