Meditations: moving day

I recently moved into a new apartment.

My housemate, whom I also lived with a few years ago, rented a U-haul truck to do his move. A number of his friends came over to help, including me. We packed the truck as full as it could go and fit most of the remainder into our cars. From the time I arrived to the moment the final box had been brought inside, the entire move took no less than eight hours of constant work.

My move took place the following weekend. It took me about an hour to load my hatchback with everything I own, another hour to make the drive, and about half an hour to unpack.

It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison. In my previous living arrangement, I was fortunate enough to have a lot of amenities provided for me; there was no need for me to have a couch, a kitchen table, or even a microwave of my own. I certainly stand to benefit from the fact that my housemate owns furniture that will be available for common use.

At the same time, it’s not exactly apples-to-oranges either. As I’ve settled into the new place, I’m constantly struck by the things my housemate owns which I see either as providing no value to either of our lives, or in many cases, being a net negative. A decorative ceramic ladle with its own decorative ceramic ladle holder is something I can relocate to the hutch and not worry about — but an entire cabinet full of mugs is something that takes up valuable space that could be used for something else.

To me, minimalism isn’t about simply having fewer things. It’s about needing everything you have. During the process of my own move, I came across a bunch of stuff that I don’t need anymore, and I’m currently sorting through it to put together a donation to my local Goodwill. At the same time, there are still things I need but don’t have — a bath mat, a small trash bin for my room, a microwave.

The interesting thing about moving day is that everything you own suddenly makes itself extremely evident. An unused item buried in the back of a closet has little to no impact on your daily life. But on moving day, it’s one box to pack; one more trip up and down the stairs. Next time I move, I hope everything I take with me is something that can justify the work.