Packing it in to move on

We were reluctant to start packing up our final goods from the house until the new couple passed through their final checkpoint in the home-purchase process. You know, just in case we had to show the place again to a fresh round of bidders.

What it’s meant was less than a week to box or wrap all that remains and haul it off somewhere.

We had already done a ton of packing and purging to make the rooms look presentable, but we wanted to leave enough to make it look cozy and livable. So that part’s done.

I’m a big believer in having uniformly sized boxes in a big move. They stack much more easily, for one thing.

Seeing those shelves empty of books does look strange. I’d forgotten how heavy they are in a box, too.

There’s no way it will all fit in our new Downeast address, especially before our anticipated renovations are completed, so we’re putting some in two storage units, in effect buying some time for some serious culling. More is going off to our daughter’s already stuffed barn in York, to come up later.

It gets emotional, of course. I’m surprised how much responsibility I feel toward the books I’ve read, and their authors. And then there’s my vinyl collection.

Of course, that’s only my tip of the proverbial iceberg. Take the kitchen and garden goods, especially.

Sometimes I used to joke that I couldn’t understand how people lived without a barn to hold all the overflow. Only now it’s not the least bit funny. Seriously, folks.

From a Jungian interpretation of the Holy Grail myth

So I lost the source, this still applies: “One of the first characteristics of a mood [the author distinguishes feeling, emotions, and moods] is that it robs us of all sense of meaning. Relatedness is necessary if we are to have a sense of meaning or fulfillment. If something is wrong with one’s ability to relate, the meaning in life is gone. So depression is another term for mood. … So a mood is a little madness, a slight psychosis that overtakes one.”

Also: “A woman is much more in control of her moods. She can use them. She tries them on and sees which one she is going to wear. A man doesn’t have as much control over his moods; in fact, he has almost no control. Many women are masters of the whole feeling department as few men ever are. Much difficulty arises because a woman presumes that a man has the same kind of control over his mood that she has over hers, but he doesn’t. She must understand and give him time, or help him a little bit. …

“There is a fine but important difference between mood and enthusiasm. The word enthusiasm is a beautiful word. In Greek it means ‘to be filled with God.’ . . . If one is filled with God, a great creativity will flow, and there will be a stability about it. If one is filled with the anima [a man’s shadow side, his feminine aspects; in a woman, it’s the animus, her male qualities] one may also feel creativity, but it will probably be gone before nightfall. One must be wise enough to know the difference between God and the anima; most men aren’t. … Laughter is positive and creative, unless it comes from a mood.”

Among the points the writer in question raises in that section is one noting the danger of a feminist stance pushing women into their animus side, which gives men no refuge. “In some respects this is necessary, but in some other respects it could be nearly fatal. Each [man and woman] should serve the other. This is the ideal. We can’t do without it. One cannot live without the service, without the love, without the nurturing and service of the other. Parsifal understands this …”

No wonder I’ve been going out of my gourd!

Letting go and moving on

It’s official. We’re selling our home of the past 21 years, including the red barn and my asparagus and fern beds.

It all happened much faster than I had anticipated. In truth, I didn’t expect our dream of relocating to a remote fishing village at the other end of Maine to go into action for another two years. Even when we made our pitch for the house we landed, I didn’t allow myself to get my hopes up – they’d been dashed too many times the previous time we were looking before we anchored in Dover.

But here we are, with any luck beating the crowd on that rising housing market. The trend of moving out from the big-city suburbs into smaller, more viable, pedestrian-friendly towns hasn’t yet reached fever levels in Sunrise County. It is, after all, an eight-hour drive from Boston.

And no, I’m not changing the name of this blog – the barn will live on in my memory and as a metaphor. Guess we’ll just have to get a garden shed, paint it red, and call it our new barn.


Still, the uprooting and transplanting have stirred up a lot within me.

I’m recalling one neighbor’s comment back in Manchester. “I don’t think anybody can afford to live in New Hampshire for under,” and he named a figure that would have gone up a lot under the inflation in the years since. At the time, I looked at him and replied, “But I do.”

He was shocked and maybe a tad embarrassed.

I still don’t know how most people are affording the prices of homes in much of New England or other hot spots, but they’re also being pressed by outrageous rental costs.


Reflecting on previous moves, I admit most of them were daring leaps to new jobs and dots on the map where I knew no one. This doesn’t feel so draconian. I’ve visited, after all, and have acquaintances, mostly through Quaker circles.

So now I flip between memories of places I was fond of and of others, well, there were some mean towns and economic struggles. Satellite photos reveal that a handful of the units I occupied have been demolished in the intervening years. Let’s just say that luxury rentals were beyond my means, but a few others had their funky charms or at least memories.

The Dover property was only the second I’d owned. The other was a marvelous 1920s bungalow in a Rust Belt town. (See my novel Hometown News for that one.) When that house was emptied, I sat down and wept in the aftermath of a divorce and the confusing developments with my fiancée.

This time, I’ve found myself anxious to move on. Both of us are finally admitting the shortfalls of our home of the past two decades – not just the short treads on the staircase but also the arrangement of the rooms and the fact it just wasn’t designed for our needs. We adapted to the space, and now that there were just two of us, the faults became inescapable.

On top of that, I keep seeing more repairs that are needed – some of them big ones the second time around. I’ve run out of energy. The responsibility – and expense – are simply too much.

But I’m also remembering guests who’ve stayed with us as well as our dinners and parties, not that we ever had as many as we would have liked.


One thing I have to acknowledge is the emotional weight of things I feel a responsibility for maintaining. As I shed more of them, I’m feel freer and more capable of opening to new experiences. The flip side is the question of just how much and what I might need to sustain that.

So here we go.

Let’s stick just to my end of this endeavor. I won’t get into hers.

Yes, I’m talking about downsizing for real.

In this matter of daily living, I squirreled away a lot of doodads and papers – created quite a compact puzzle arrangement, actually – but preparing to move has meant opening the proverbial Pandora’s box and watching it all jump out, well, like a jack-in-the-box explosion.

There was no way I could take all of this stuff with me. It was time to let go.

Things like the library card, my swim pass and parking permit, old insurance forms and booklets.

Clothing got touchier, as I had to ask if I really planned on wearing this item or that – did I even like it? Old pillows, too.

It was time to let go of the tape cassettes, I had nothing to play them on anyway, but I do have a neighbor who’s big into his sound system, so I’m happy to know they have a new home. I simply realized I was unlikely to listen to them again, considering my schedule, even in retirement. I’ll concentrate on my vinyl and CDs, which will likely get a pruning in the upcoming year. You know, that reality that as you clear out the debris, you discover all kinds of treasures you didn’t know you owned. Ditto for the remaining books, which did get yet another culling but need more. What am I likely to need or revisit in the next five years?

I also passed along my student violin and sheet music.

Another difficult decision was to pitch a complete set of my mimeographed Ramblers, a periodic broadside I published in my years at Wright State University, as well as a long shelf of my contributor’s copies of literary journals where I’d appeared. Plus several boxes of unsold copies of my first novel. Even several drawers of acceptance letters – the more volumous rejections went out a half-dozen years ago. Add to that old genealogy notes and correspondence. The fact was that these imposed an emotional weight on me, and now I let go.

Oh, yes, and then there were several cases of 3½-inch computer cassettes. I couldn’t even access those now if I wanted to, though I moved all of their relevant content over years ago. No problem, overboard they went. Finally.

My cross-country skis are joining the discards. I was never that good on them, and getting older, I’m deciding to shift to snowshoes. Besides, I’ve usually been out on the snow all alone, as in solo, and I need to admit that if I break a bone in a fall, I’d be in big trouble. (Yes, I do tumble.) Oh, the realities and perils of getting old.

I am planning on going through my journals in the next year, and I suspect I’ll actually wind up burning some of them – the ones that have been thoroughly mined for poetry and fiction prompts or the ones that are boringly banal.

In the back of my head are the stories of surviving family members having to clean out the possessions of a deceased parent or grandparent. So my intent is to spare my own much of that burden. Not that they won’t still have plenty to tackle.