Because there is a little thing called my wedding coming up in TWELVE DAYS, I have hardly had time to think about the fact that I am moving back to Germany in TWENTY-TWO DAYS. But it’s true. And amidst all of the wedding-related arts and crafts and busy shopping trips and ironing of table cloths, this fact has been nagging at the back of my mind.
Life, once again, has to be pared down into a few suitcases, a carry-on bag and a personal item. I went through this process two years ago, and it was relatively painless; however, this time it isn’t for “just one year,” and so the task seems somehow more difficult than before.
For “just one year,” I used the linens provided by my student residence, could stuff all of my clothes into my bags and have my mom ship the heavy winter things later, could also narrow down my book collection to five necessities and just leave the rest behind. This time around, we’ll have an apartment in Germany, which we’d like to make into a home, and the time frame is indefinite. I do have an advantage, though, after having been there before. I have an idea of what actually makes sense for life in Germany this time. Multiple pairs of boots, yes. High heels, no. In Germany, practicality rules in almost all things.
To help with the process, I started a list a while back: donate/sell, storage, take. When it comes time to pack, I’ll probably have to shift some things from the “take” list into the “storage” list based on the space in my suitcase, and this won’t be easy.
Oh, I can give away lots of things. I have donated many household items to Goodwill already, and these have not been bitter goodbyes. (Although, the expense of replacing them in Germany won’t be sweet!)
Other things matter more, though: artwork, photos in frames, favorite coffee mugs, decorative items and antiques I’ve collected, pottery I made. Some of these things will come with me, and others will wait for the day when we move back to the United States, whenever that may be.
As far as furniture goes, most of my things are finding other homes, but my desk that I lovingly refinished is going to hang out at my parents’ house. Thanks to Julius’s parents, we already have some pieces waiting for us in Germany. I remind myself that we won’t live in a completely bare apartment, and I know it will be okay. (Finding an affordable apartment is the first obstacle, but when we do, we’ll have some stuff to put in it.)
Some of you may be reading and thinking, “It’s just stuff” or “Think of it as a good excuse to cut the clutter.” At least, that is what my internal voice is saying… Look on the bright side. Truth be told, I do welcome the chance to start fresh in our first home together. And I know from experience how little it takes for a pretty good life. Things are just things, and we ought not to be too attached to them, but some things make us feel at home and bring us great joy when we think of where they came from or who made them or gave them to us. The items deemed dear enough to travel between continents over the years will take on special meaning.
It’s a delicate subject since we can also become captive to things and they can rob us of joy and contentment. And, you know, real treasure isn’t material.
Readers who have made big moves — what are your tips for deciding what to take and what to let go of? How did you sort and decide what to donate, keep or give? What are you glad to have brought, or what do you wish you’d have left behind? Tell me about your experiences! Leave me some tips in a comment!