They say it’s where your heart is, but they’re wrong, as they so often are.
I learned this in college. In college, you move 4 times a year, or at least I did. You move in at the beginning of the semester, you move home for the month long winter break, you move back at the beginning of the 2nd semester, and then you move again at the end of the year. When I was in college, I’d pack my entire music & computer rig wherever I was going. This alone taught me this truth: home is where your stuff is.
Our stuff gets a bad rap. The problem is that we Americans typically have too much stuff, and that tends to overshadow all the good stuff that we do have and use. Your stuff is not just shallow material possessions. You use your stuff to slice bread and cook meals. Your sit on your stuff. You have large pieces of stuff where you can organize smaller stuff. Some people need their stuff to earn a living. Your stuff is the very fabric of your everyday life.
I could not help but ponder this as I helped Mike and Gretchen with the middle to ending stages of their move yesterday. I say middle to ending, because it’s often tough to gauge exactly where you are in a move. Just when you think you have all your stuff accounted for and put on the truck, you realize that there’s more stuff hiding behind it. My contribution to the Lee family move was not going to be made in the fixer-upper department. I’m more of a breaker-downer when it comes to tools, so I volunteered to be a grunt on truck day. I still managed to put an edge-of-a-filing-cabinet-drawer sized ding in a freshly painted wall, because that’s how I roll.
Now, I know Mike and Gretchen pretty well. We have over a decade of history together, and we consider them good, close friends… good enough friends for me to schlep through L.A. traffic on a rainy Wednesday with work gloves, anyways. And I tell ya, I put my work-gloved hands all over their stuff yesterday. For example, I carried a dresser drawer full of Mike’s shirts up a flight of stairs. I’ve seen him wear these shirts, but never given them much thought, and yet, because of a move, here I am staring at what is essentially one of the most private places in his life. Not private in a titillating or scandalous way, just private. There are but a few situations where a man need examine another man’s shirt drawer. But yesterday several of us, friends and family, were manhandling the fabric of Mike and Gretchen’s everyday existence, meaning well, and sometimes dinging the freshly painted walls.
Moving is messy, dirty business. Hiding behind and underneath the appliances and dresser drawers is dirt and dust that we never see until we pack everything into a box and pull our stuff away from the walls. Cherrios and toys and grime and unknown funk are wily things, sneaking off to the corners of your world, trying to evade your disinfectant wielding hands. I remembered so clearly yesterday, from when we moved two years ago, thinking, “How can we live with all this filth in here just inches away from our sight and thoughts?” Mike and Gretchen maintain a perfectly clean and sanitary household, so this is not any sort of reflection on them. Life is just… messy. Life with young children is especially messy.
I hadn’t seen the new house yet. For all the excellent decisions that Mike and Gretchen have made over the years, I must again level my protest at their choice to add twelve whole miles to the distance we must travel to visit them. Twelve miles on an L.A. freeway is no small matter. Anyways… I hadn’t seen the new house.
It’s a great place. You’ve seen pictures, but it’s really quite a special house once you’re actually there. My first thought was, “They’re gonna spend a long time here.” This is a family raising house, with character and possibility. It’s in a great neighborhood, close to work and play, safe and quiet, with lots of street parking, unlike Burbank.
There’s something so appealing about an empty house, all fresh paint, open space, and the smell of possibility. In an instant, you leave behind the dust and junk from your old existence, and you get a new chance to organize your life, hopefully with a little bit more square footage. Of course, all your worldly stuff is in a truck parked out front, and it wants in.
But that’s ok. Home is where your stuff is, after all.