I hate moving. Hate it. I have so much stuff. People don’t realise how much. Some of it is important to me. Some of it is not. I have estimated that I have around seven hundred books. I’m proud of my library and I want to keep it. Other things are less important to me. I have clothes to fit 27 stone me, and clothes to fit 25 stone me and clothes to fit 21 stone me and clothes to fit 18 stone me and clothes to fit 16 stone me. I even have smaller clothes from when I was 16 stone that I bought on the assumption I was going to lose even more weight. I have a lot of clothes. The vast majority of them don’t fit me. I also have a filing cabinet and two boxes full of papers and memories – the result of a sorting process described in this post. I have two armchairs, a desk, two little tables and one middle-sized one, a printer, a chest of drawers, all my CDs (I stopped buying CDs around 2010, but I started around 1995, so that’s still a lot of CDs). I have bedding for three beds and 22 pillows and cushions. I have blankets and throws and a life-size cardboard Miss Piggy. I have bins and an ironing board and laundry baskets and kitchen appliances and baking equipment and two bedside tables and three artificial Christmas trees and three boxes of Christmas decorations, a kettlebell, extension leads and a toolbox, boardgames, lots of DVDs and two old laptops that I’m afraid to throw out because I don’t know what’s on them. I have two bathroom weighing scales and two kitchen weighing scales. I have a five-foot wide canvas of One Direction dressed in sailor suits and lots of African bits and bobs that my parents bought me during their missionary years. I have a ceramic elephant and a ceramic frog that I got as presents from my students in Gorzów Wlkp back in 2003. I have two snowglobes and a collection of fridge magnets. I have rugs and mats and a mop bucket and a basin and towels and tea towels and an apron and so much cutlery and crockery. I like stuff. I like nesting. But it does make moving hard.
I was working with an English woman this summer. She’s spent over 30 years teaching and travelling. She doesn’t keep anything. When she finishes a book, she finds someone to give it away to. She lives out of a suitcase and she’s used to it. She doesn’t nest. I’m jealous, and I half considered giving away/selling all my stuff, but it’s not even worth it, so I’m boxing it all up and moving it.
I’ve booked a storage unit in Tallaght. It’s great. But I’m not allowed to use it.
My dad cannot process why someone would want to pay to store something when their parents have an actual house. My bedroom was re-decorated on the basis that I’d moved all my stuff out forever. And my stuff has grown since it was last at home in Ballincollig. Dad insists that I bring it home though. Paying for storage is mad to him. I think this is partly because he grew up in the rural mid-West of Ireland in the 1940s and no one would have dreamed of paying to store their stuff. He thinks paying money for furniture is excessive. When he was a child, you didn’t have a bedside locker. You had an upturned tea chest. And why would you pay for a bedside locker when tea chests are free?
One of my favourite people is Guy Branum, comedian and host of the Pop Rocket podcast. He also happens to be an overweight homosexual. Anyway, back in June when I was walking on the camino on the dusty road into a town called Castrojeriz, I was listening to Pop Rocket and Guy introduced Bohemian Rhapsody, describing it as a song where a gay man breaks up with his mother. I remember being physically taken aback by the description. Coming out as gay is kind of like breaking up with your parents. You’re going back on the deal, the deal to marry like them and have babies like them and live in and relate to civil society the way they do. Your relationship with them changes forever when you come out. And in some cases, it’s OK. These days, lots of parents are fine with it. But not in every case. And my coming out was a decisive rejection of my parents and of their way of life and I think their insistence that I move my things back into their house has a pleading element, a “don’t reject us” element. So I won’t. I’ve cancelled my storage unit. And everything is going to have to somehow be crammed into my parents’ house. It won’t fit, but it’ll save money and it’ll be an olive branch to my parents and so that’s what I’m doing.
And although I hate the process, I love the result. I’m looking forward to living out of a suitcase. I still remember the night, described here, when I decided to move out of my lovely cottage in Dublin 8 and I applied for student accommodation in Hall. I hated packing the house up. But I did love being freed of all my stuff. As I moved in with my friend, and later into Hall, I felt lighter. I missed having a home, and being a grown-up, but I loved being footloose and free. My living-in-a-hostel-in-London plan isn’t all that different. People warned me that I wouldn’t like living with students in Hall. They were wrong. Hopefully the people warning me that I won’t like London and I won’t like living in a hostel are all wrong. Hopefully.