Saturday, 10 July 2010

Life and Things

Since it is about 30 degrees celsius (85 F) and sunny outside, I figured that today would be a perfect day to stay indoors and make sense of a big, troublesome question: why do I have so much stuff, and where is it all going? There is a lot of my stuff here that I simply love and have missed horribly: framed vintage postcards, beautiful Russian tea sets, pretty old ornaments, vintage fabrics, dozens of old scarves, porcelain plates from the 1950s and hundreds of books. As much as I love my things, there are just so many of them, and they all have some sort of a meaning attached to them. I feel bad for my things being tucked away from life the way they are now. Considering that my life is still split between two continents, I guess it would be natural to feel anxiety over this type of spill-over effect love and life have had on my things and my relationship to them.

I have always loved collecting things. A lot of my memories are linked to the clothes I have worn, the vintage sheets I have slept in, the tea cups I have drank my Sergejeff from. About three years ago I started a major nesting phase, the first one I have ever had after having lived out of a suitcase for about seven years. I needed to feel like I had a home base, and I loved acquiring things to make me feel more rooted. I went to flea markets, got attached to my grandmother's old furniture, and framed and hung pictures of golden-age Hollywood actors and actresses on my walls. I bought a lot of books I had always wanted to own, but hadn't been able to before because of my suitcase lifestyle. When Chris came into the picture, a lot changed: he increased my need to nest expontentially, but at the same time I was required to make some sense out of the nesting I had done so far. All the stuff I had acquired had an attached meaning, but without Chris, all of that meaning would just be a front of a pretty-looking life.

As I am going through my old stuff now, stuff that's packed away in boxes in three different addresses in Finland alone, it is almost as my things are telling me that they feel lonely. I feel bad looking at the evidence of my old life. The objects of my affection still have their meaning, but they don't have a framework, they exist outside of real life. They are scattered around just like my memories are inside my head: important, but secondary from the standpoint of living one's life.

I have no need to purge the things I love. They live in a bit of a limbo for as long as Chris and I are still keeping our options open in regard to our plans for the future. There is a possibility of relocation, and there wouldn't be any point in shipping everything just to have it be shipped again in a year's time. So my things wait. The lucky few make a trip to upstate New York in my suitcase every time I fly, and the rest of them, I hope, feel at least secure in well-sealed cardboard boxes.

My sister's kitties, Morris and Matroskin


Modesty is Pretty said...

Wow you just look more amazing with everyday passing. This post is great, it made me think of the things I've bought and why I bought them and how I've always felt like they were abandoned and then I came to save and take care of them, it almost seems like they are more than just things, everyone of them (I imagine) had a story before they came to me and then with me they have another chance to tell a story, so it is hard to get rid of most of my stuff, they have more sentimental value. I have a skirt almost like yours, except the colors, I love the combination of colors and patterns, it's always so fun to combine patterns.

Becky said...

I also have a lot of stuff tied to all sorts of memories. Since I'm moving soon, I'm doing my best to purge a lot of these. My new place will be extremely small, and I simply can't fit all that stuff in it. But I think it's harder for you since you ARE divided between two continents and two countries. I hope you get your things soon, though - it's easier to feel at home when you have all of your favorite things!

Charlotte said...

You write so eloquently about the need to create a home, a feeling of security in the world. That you and your husband have a relative time frame for making a choice of where to live gives you a reason to delay making a big decision about what to do with things you aren't immediately using. What strikes me most, though, is your understanding that your things feel lonely being shut away and not loved on a daily basis. That's such a good way to think about possessions--and a way to let them go, if you have to, to return them to a life where they will be loved and used.

Anonymous said...

Quick note, hon...I have always felt (since I was very young) that 'things' have feelings...or at least some sense of place, and their value to us. So I truly do feel for the items you have stored away over there (especially since I helped to store them! :)...their time will come, and then they will be happy and fulfilled as parts of our lives again.
AND...for some reason the pic of the kitties reminds me of Paul McCartney and John Lennon, circa 'A Hard Day's Night' just seems to me that the pic could be of Paul in a turtlenck with his big staring eyes (Matroskin), and John being John...all aloof and interesting (Morris).Yes, I am crazy. oxox, Chris

Skyline Eyes said...

Adorable cats, and you look lovely (:

Eyeliah said...

I stopped buying new things about a year ago, and I'm about to do a huge purge. It's exciting and nerve racking at the same time. IK just need to start fresh.

tigerteacher said...

I loved reading this post! I'm glad to know I'm not the only one thinking about things having feelings and being/feeling neglected. I often think this way when deciding what to donate - when I recognize that something I have is really special but doesn't quite fit me well or doesn't quite make it into regular wear for me for whatever reason - I imagine how happy its new life will be once someone else comes along and doesn't relegate it to the back of a closet.

Recently we bought a new house, from its original owner, a sweet woman who moved into it as a young bride and raised two sons and moved out to a retirement village after 55 years in the house. I know that she loved this house and I often think of the house as having some kind of feelings and I hope that it feels as content with us as we feeling living in it, knowing that it will continue to be valued and taken care of and loved.

Eline said...

I live in two homes too right now, and though they're not as far apart as yours I know exactly what you mean. I do feel guilty for owning this much stuff though. I just know I don't need it, and some stuff I've owned I've even forgotten about. On one hand I don't want to part with stuff that is a remnant of my old life, but on the other I just ask myself 'why do I need it?'. I think I'll get sick of it one day and throw everything in the trash.