Friday 30 November 2012

Moving (house) with the times

I feel as if I've been on a long trip – around the world and back and forth in time. I've been moving house, and it's been quite a mind-ride. 

Re-reading old letters and travel stories (found my first ever story, about a three-month overland trip across Africa, published way back in 1991 when I still used a typewriter and "google" was just a silly word). Looking at photos (slides!). Finding things I’m no longer attached to (and some I still am – e.g. random souvenirs: a prayer wheel here, a fridge magnet there). Thinking about stuff and how we relate to it.

A small disclaimer: I just moved downstairs into a newly renovated apartment, out of the soon-to-be-renovated upstairs apartment of this two-storey house. 

Inherited cupboard - thanks, Teri!
But a move is a move, and I hadn’t changed my address for almost 10 years. So there was lots of sorting to do - through objects accumulated, inherited from long-gone flatmates, forgotten about and saved for “later”. It was difficult, time-consuming, wearying.

There was dismay: I generated more rubbish in two weeks than I have in the past six months – tossing out things that can’t be re-used, recycled, sold or given away – but it is 10 years' worth of stuff. And gosh it felt good. I'm no hoarder (I love getting rid of things) but I was flabbergasted at the amount of stuff I had (past tense).

There was joy, too: at being able to dispose of a lot of stuff responsibly. Let me count the ways:

1. There was an ewaste collection in my street at just the right time.
2. Paper be gone: I emptied two filing cabinets into the paper recycling bin (let's hear it for digital files, hippip...). 
3. Gumtree is great - the other day I gave away a microwave, an iron, an ironing board and a step ladder, five minutes after posting the ad on Gumtree. It's free and easy to use and I've met some lovely people.
4. Vinnies - I’ve got a small room of stuff waiting to go to St Vincent de Paul. Crockery, clothes, lampshades, books. All for a good cause, helping families in need :)

Magazines going cheap (free)
5. Giveaways - Come over to my house, I'll give you some stuff! Friends have been very obliging this past week or so. There's a pile of books waiting to go to Desire Books in Manly (best second-hand book shop in the universe). Stacks of Outdoor Australia (now Australian Geographic Outdoor) magazines going to the editor for his archives. 

A highlight (an indication of my current head-space): our old fridge went to recycling heaven today, saved from landfill hell by the Fridge Buyback program – for fridges made before 1996 and larger than 200 litres. Two surly men picked it up and took it away in a truck, to be de-gassed (to prevent gases escaping into the atmosphere) and taken apart for scrap metal. 

New home + neighbour's cat Miffy
Now it's almost done, peace is returning and some free time. And at the end of it all, the reward is a new place to call home, not so much clutter and a clearer head, less shackled to the past and ready for new experiences. Bring it on J

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