On Moving, and the Shit You Take with You
Moving to a new apartment makes you realize that, even though you got a new place, you're still filling it with the same old shit.
No one, save the impossibly rich, enjoys moving. If you're well off, you can afford the luxury of hiring desperate college students to schlep your Eames chairs, coffee-table books, and carefully cultivated collection of modern art to your soon-to-be tastefully decorated midcentury home. If you're not, you can afford to pay your hungover, soon-to-be-embittered friends in pizza and piss-weak American macrobrews for an afternoon spent unburdening yet another in a series of fifth-floor walkups of its worthless contents. Regardless of which camp you may fall into, moving, like death, comes to us all. It is an inevitability of life, much like, uh, death.
I recently, begrudgingly, found myself home for Thanksgiving. During my brief tenure there, I did what you do when you're at home—emptily watched hours of cable television while waiting for sleep's warm, Snuggie-esque embrace. Eons after my grandparents had retired for the night, the remote control happened upon an episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills wherein one of the titular housewives hires a group of young, dumb, and full-of-cum college boys to box up and transport her leather couches and Louboutins to their next (no doubt) fabulous locale. In one (clearly scripted) scene, she elatedly instructs the boys to expose their taut abs to her Cosmo-swilling cohorts, who in turn judge their fuckability. In the next scene, she perversely declares that she has fucked the one the group deemed most fuckable.
She, of course, belongs to the impossibly rich camp. I, of course, do not. So when I recently moved, limelight-desperate hardbodies were not on the payroll. Instead, I guilt-tripped my kindhearted friends into schlepping the secondhand rowing machine I steadfastly refuse to get rid of down two flights of stairs. I did not fuck any of them. Given the degree to which I ruined their Saturday afternoon, I should have. (I'm a wonderful and giving fuck, I assure you.)
I used to be used to moving. In my troubled young adulthood I was a transient, never staying in one place for any significant amount of time. Across the country, across the globe, I'd traverse, jumping from place to place, new beau to new beau, heavy bindle in hand. Thankfully, my wanderin' days hit the pavement when I hit Los Angeles, the Xanadu I've called home for the past seven years. For the last five, I actively inhabited a neighborhood anyone I encountered with skin as white as privilege informed me I should actively fear. I never did. Instead, I felt a grandiose, unwarranted sense of pride every time I stumbled home unscathed at two in the morning. I was, after all, an early gentrifier! A trailblazer!
Times changed, as they do, and with them came shifts in the demographics of my neighborhood. I convinced myself that the people who had lived in my building for decades respected me more than my fellow gentrifiers because I didn't wear Lululemon yoga pants, own a rescue pit bull, or refuse to make eye contact with them in the hall. I was one of the "good ones." Or was I? As time passed and ironically mustachioed men with fixed-gear bikes started to outnumber sincerely mustachioed men with mountain bikes, I began to feel more and more like a fraud. It didn't help that the grim specter of the death of my last relationship hovered everywhere, making the glorified room I called an apartment feel like a prison cell. It was time, I decided, to move to a new room. A room where I could make more, different, unpleasant memories!
Moving is a time for reassessment. It is a time to ask oneself, Why do I own so many ball gowns? It's also, apparently, a time to convince one's self that one owns so many ball gowns because one needs said ball gowns, in spite of the fact that they have become fetid over time. (Listen—oneself does not make dry-cleaning money, OK?)
Moving is also a time for realization. It is a time to realize, with horror, how many copies of Inhaler by Tad you have (two, if you're keeping track). Coming face to face with the amount of literal and figurative garbage you've surrounded yourself with, like a fortress between you and all those sociopaths who are into "clean" interior design, is harrowing. There is nothing more humbling than watching one of your closest friends buckle under the weight of a box filled with cut-out vinyl and your novelty-coffee-mug collection.
When you are young, you are often under the impression that owning interesting things makes you, by proxy, interesting. When you're older, you realize that, goddamn it, you own far too many VHS tapes of The Gong Show for someone who doesn't own a functional VCR.
It's funny, the way in which we can convince ourselves we still need things we clearly have no need for. The mind is a powerful and stupid organ. What, exactly, the things I own are doesn't matter. All that matters is that they're mine. They, by their association with me, prove that I am here. Without their existence, would I exist? (The answer is that I would, but without my Gong Show tapes, and would you really call that living?)
I did try to unburden myself before the move, selling thousands of dollars worth of things I had acquired over the years for a pittance. I gave away a great many trinkets. And yet still, in spite of it all, I find myself surrounded by stuff. Because I gave up trying to avoid the inevitable.
Sure, I'm tired of being surrounded by boxes filled with "personality." But instead of examining their contents and deciding whether or not they're necessary, I simply placed them on the shelf above my bed. Now, when I wake up in the morning, I open my eyes and see all my stuff staring right back at me. The clutter renders my apartment non-Pinterestable. Fuck it, I thought as I put the boxes on the shelf, I'm still in my 20s. (I am, in the interest of full disclosure, no longer in my twenties.)
The boxes are perilously stacked; when the big one hits, they will surely fall on me and either crush me instantly or leave me trapped. Under them, my wholly uninteresting corpse will exist.
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