Who DO You Think You Are?

By | May 4, 2014

throw pillows

Exactly who do you think you are?

Well, until this week my answer wouldn’t have been “more shoes than I can wear in a week” or “three gallon-sized serving bowls (two white; one glass) or “60-some containers of herbs and spices.”

It certainly wouldn’t have been my pasta-maker or the Lodge cast iron Dutch oven or the dessert plates we found in a Paris flea market.

Now I’m not so sure.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the eight throw pillows on my bed, so why is it so hard to part with any of them? They’re just sewn-together pieces of fabric stuffed with some kind of polyester batting. They mean nothing. And then there’s a little piece of yellowed lace that had belonged to my grandmother. I’m certainly never going to use it. Chair doilies are not my thing. But it’s not going out of my possession. Not as long as I’m breathing.

On the other hand, we are discovering for ourselves that 50 pairs of socks and 10+ packs of bandaids (Mr. FB) and 3 square gallon-sized serving bowls and my (first) wedding silver and crystal decanters may really be too much.

And here we are in a little two-bedroom apartment in Evanston, less than half the size of our home in Bucktown and we brought way, way too much stuff, even after the purge. And even more ironically, just one block away from the very first apartment I lived in in Evanston with my first husband and baby son.

And having lived in the city for 13 years with the range of life that goes from being a spit away from great theater and amazing restaurants to the occasionally gang-wanna-be marked garage door, it’s a little odd to see so many big trees out my window. It’s a little too quiet (except for that damned bird singing its heart out outside my bedroom window at 4 am). And, as my hairdresser suggested, lower your expectations for a while when it comes to eating out.

Walking into this place, even though it is lovely, was unnerving. Everything unfamiliar. A total blank canvas. And then the movers unrolled our living room rug and it began to feel at least a little like home.

The unpacking process has been as eye-opening as its mirror image of packing. Out comes my strategic left brain strong suit as I figure out where things should go to make them most easily accessible. It didn’t look like we had a place for everything. I questioned what the heck I was doing with it all.

We have no pantry and no linen closet so we created make-shift versions of each out of storage units. At least now we have a place to put our towels and sheets and plastic storage containers.

I have already rearranged the kitchen twice so that things would be where they work. The kitchen is a galley-style with two rows of counters and cabinets facing each other. The cabinets are higher than I am used to and – short-person that I am – a step stool is essential. Sink and dishwasher on one side; refrigerator and stove on the other. All the food is now between the fridge and the stove. Seems to work.

And you know what, I like having all that stuff. Maybe it’s not “me,” but it sure makes my life more fun and more creative and certainly more interesting. It’s not right. It’s not wrong. It’s what I have and what I like. Am am clearing out some of the extra? That too.

First meal in the new place was a badly made omelet (broccolini and smoked Gouda) for breakfast. Second meal, lunch of mediocre really bad packaged ramen soup. I’m not too ambitious here so far. My brain patterns have me reach in the wrong place for … well, everything. The disposer is in the right sink. No it’s on the left. Reach up for the cans. No they’re down. Oy!

Yesterday, we had the building maintenance man (we actually have a maintenance man who isn’t Mr. FB!) put up pictures and mirrors. More and more feeling vaguely familiar. Still, not everything is unpacked and the hallway is lined with empty boxes that have yet to be put in storage for the next move in six months.

basket and radio

“What do you want me to do with this wire and wicker basket?” Mr. FB just asked me just a few minutes ago. “It’s ugly,” he said.

“No, I want it,” I said immediately – without thinking – and plopped it on top of the little desktop radio that I thought we had given away years ago, but that he had saved. And then filled it with stuff. More and more like home.



3 Comments

Beth Joyce on May 4, 2014 at 5:06 pm.

I did this 13 years ago. Now planning on doing it again. It overwhelms me. I know my kids don’t want my grandmothers dishes and by the time they realize they might want them… They will be gone. I am enjoying them now. I’m in the purging state. I can’t believe how much clothes I have!

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Hedda Adler Schwartz on May 5, 2014 at 8:17 am.

That is why I haven’t moved. Don’t need this big house. But one becomes a slave to one’s possessions. What do I do with with it all?

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Steve Weiss on May 5, 2014 at 11:29 pm.

You and Michael are entering a time where Sherry and I entered about 40 years ago. We existed quite well in a one bedroom 3rd floor apartment. We were always bumping into each other. And the good thing was that it resulted in Erin and Aimee. Watch out. A sibling to Josh and Alexis may be just around the corner!

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