Thursday, 7 August 2014

Declutter. Pack. Detach.

I am not exactly a Pollyanna, but the glad game is not to be scoffed at; the truth is that there’s some take-away in every situation. Incidentally, the packers turned up, the house has been now stripped of our worldly possessions and looks stranger and more sterile by the minute.  I realised afresh that a home is really made out of knick-knacks and photographs, teenager messes of cords and earphones, mismatched socks in laundry baskets, scrunched up throws on sofas.  Talking of laundry baskets, the presence or absence of one itself is crucial to the feel of home, the bathrooms look oddly unfamiliar, like hotel bathrooms without the bins, just the brushes by themselves on the lonely emptiness of the counters.    And definitely the sink looks massively weird without our early morning coffee mugs in it.

Though our stuff is out on the road, hopefully making its slow way to Alex and then onwards, the MIA is still MIA, and our travel plans have had to be postponed a little.  Two more days of living out of suitcases and eating off disposable plates, camping under a concrete roof.  Waiting for that one phone call, that one email to snap shut the bags and stride out of the door.  Never a dull moment!  And the fun continues apace once we reach our new destination too, as the stuff does not arrive for the next 4-6 weeks.  I just hope we manage the trip there before the boxes do!

I have now moved home 19 times, this one will be my 20th.  There are many apparent negatives to this complete uprooting and moving again and again, especially when there are children involved.  I am sure everyone can imagine the potential horror stories for themselves.  But one of the great things about it, when and only when the uprooting happens through active choice of course, is that the whole process is a kind of systematic and ruthless detox of the immediate micro-environment.  One picks and chooses, one prioritises, one can’t take it all, so what’s worth saving? and passing on?  and what shock horror is to be thrown away? Old clothes have been chucked; you know, those I hung onto in the hope I would be able to fit into them again after slimming down a bit.  Any day now.  Toys given away at school charity drives, food and booze passed on, papers sorted out and trashed.

A mini-lesson in detachment and disengaging, and it always surprises me.  How quickly the mind can bear to tear away from a beloved object, amble out of comfort zones, its eyes fixed on what’s coming rather than what’s gone already.  My books are no longer on the shelves here.  My cutlery not in the kitchen drawers, which open silently without a single metallic rattle.  I am now utterly decluttered.

Egypt is a place I’ve enjoyed deeply. I have gained insights into myself here, grown in completely gobsmacking ways travelling this country.  It’s been the setting of many milestones for me and my family.  I have loved living here to bits.  But it is no longer home.  How easy it is to write that down.  And my god, how difficult!

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