Almost everyday we hear somebody say “I live vicariously through you” or “I wish we could do what you’re doing.”
As inviting as it may seem, it’s probably not the lifestyle for everybody.
There is actually quite a commitment to chucking it all and becoming a gypsy. It takes a dash of nerve and a pinch of intestinal fortitude to get rid of everything you own except a handful of personal items that can be fit into a few boxes.
16 boxes to be exact. 30 years of marriage and three kids later, we’re whittled down to 16 boxes, most them in storage. Many of these boxes are tagged to go directly to the kids when they are more settled, and some, containing photo albums and baby clothes will not be opened for years.
We no longer own a stick of furniture, an appliance or a bit of clothing we are not planning to wear in the near future (including those skinny jeans that were hanging around as incentive). It is amazingly freeing and, at the same time, a little bit frightening.
What is it about boxes, bubble-wrap and packing tape that drags us down Memory Lane?
Back when we were readying for our GypsyNester adventure, I was sorting through baby clothes that I couldn’t bear to part with; a sweet little black and white dress that our girls, The Piglet and Decibel, both wore; a jumper with an appliquéd Scottie dog, handmade by David’s mother, that each of her four sons and The Boy had donned on special occasions.
As I was packing, the boxes were taunting me. They had surrounded me with bubble-wrap, packing tape and intimidation. They made our upcoming adventure a bit too real.
“A change is ahead,” the boxes mocked, knowing I have issues with change.
I was no longer a Mommy, but a long distance mother. I no longer woke up in the middle of the night to breastfeed a sweet-breathed newborn, forced myself to stay awake waiting on an boundary-pushing teenager flirting with her curfew or had to be up at the crack of dawn to shuttle the brood to school. If I was up late – or early – it was merely because felt like it. Or I had to pee.
“Why is this so daunting?” I asked the boxes.
They simply sat there offering no answers. Apparently, boxes only pose questions.
The boxes continued to nag:
“You have no plans!” It appears that the boxes were also aware that I was the embodiment of preparedness.
Even though our plan as GypsyNesters is no plans, the boxes’ statement was thought provoking. Stupid boxes, making me think about stuff.
It is true that I am, deep down to my core, a planner. Years ago I came across a poem my mother wrote that beautifully, yet truthfully, described me. It spoke of a child who looked so forward to upcoming events, meticulously preparing for every moment, that when the big day arrived she was always let down. It’s high time that kid is sent to her room without supper.
I firmly believe this propensity for planning served me well in the parenting department. I made lists, charts and schematic diagrams to keep track of ballet rehearsals, baseball games, concert practices and flying lessons. I would scotch tape the kids’ schedule to the glove compartment of our minivan.
But the time has come, dear boxes, for the obsessive planning to end. The plan is for you to be in storage – no matter how much you whine, plead or intimidate.
“What about our precious cargo,” they asked as I bubble-wrap the living crap out of an heirloom teacup, “don’t you care about ANYTHING anymore?”
This answer was easy. The stuff in the boxes had been gathering dust on shelves or buried in drawers for quite some time. Not exactly daily-use-type stuff. This was the history of us, my husband and our children, our parents and grandparents, mementos of lives lived.
No one in our family is at a point where Memory Lane is a street in their city, much less neighborhood. And David and I certainly aren’t going to live there. I’ll revisit Memory Lane when I’m really old, surrounded once again by these mocking boxes, a crotchety old lady with too many stories to tell, willing to recount them to anyone who will listen.
I also know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the photo albums, grandma’s china and books I treasured as a child remain precious. Someday, perhaps one of my daughters, a grandson or a curious anthropologist – or space alien – will cherish my keepsakes just as I have.
But for now, you 16 boxes, it’s time for you to shut up and keep my memories safe in the dark, cool recesses of a storage building.
‘Cause I’m outta here.