Packing Up

Two questions seem to always be asked of me when I uproot my life and look to explore somewhere else. They are during the cleansing stage. The stage that is essentially relieving myself of all items no longer required.

On occasions previous, everything I owned was required to fit within one, reasonably large sized backpack. The sort of back-mounted luggage you might see attached to an exhausted tourist that just missed the last rickety bus out of town.

As a result of gathered wisdom and items of sentimental value, I had relaxed the rules and sprung for a second backpack. Albeit much smaller. The sort of shoulder slung kind you might see hanging from a youth who just skipped the last bus to school.

Except not that cool. And with much better spinal support.

The questions are very similar.

'How can you do this so easily?'

This one is asked as I sort my clothes into 'keep', 'bin' and 'charity shop' piles. The size of the piles goes in reverse order. The keep pile must always be the smallest. My motto during this process is 'ruthless!', an exclamation that is yelled each time an item fails to make the keep pile.

Soon I have just a small amount of clothes that will be coming with me and two large piles of items that have spent their last day in my employ. Shirts that were recently favourites and worn perhaps too often are suddenly gone, never to be seen again.

I find this process incredibly easy. I need to fit everything into a backpack and so a lot needs to go. I have done it enough times to know that being ruthless is the only way. No second thoughts, if I don't need it, lose it.

The same goes for mementos, furniture, posters, magazines, everything. If it can be re-homed then brilliant, if not then employees of the local government can collect it from the curbside or the provided refuse receptacles.

I don't get attached to things too easily. And even once I have become attached, it is usually quite simple for me to get unattached in a heartbeat. I'm not sure what this says about me, but it is the way I am.

On my last day at one of the best jobs I have ever had, having run out of cardboard boxes, I threw all the memories I wanted to keep into a large black garbage bag. The problem's started when I forgot to take it with me and popped in the next day to find the cleaners had, quite understandably, seen a large black garbage bag and thrown it in the dumpster, which had then been collected, presumably by local government types similar to the ones I mentioned earlier.

Instead of dwelling on the sad nature of the incident, I moved on. I still sometimes think about that bag of past joys but never concern myself over the result. It happened so I move on.

Most of it wouldn't have fit in the backpack anyway.

The second question that gets asked: 'How is this so hard for you?'

In slight contradiction to the first question, some things prove to be a little bit difficult for me. Nothing of importance, just silly things. Which is where the confusion comes in. Things that most would expect me to find it emotional to part with are no problems, but some odd items cause me concern.

The first reason this question came up during the current move centred around a pair of shoes. Footwear has long been an issue when it comes to the backpack rule. They just don't fit well. Having size 12 feet certainly doesn't help, they take up an outrageous amount of space.

I usually get around this in life by having just three pairs of shoes as a maximum. A pair for exercising, one for work and a borderline nice pair that can be worn to a mid-level event while still providing comfort.

Having quite recently found a sensational pair of running shoes on sale, my girlfriend assumed, fairly it has to be said, that my now discarded pair could be thrown into the charity shop pile. This is where the problems began.

I love those shoes. They took me to some wonderful places and carried me to a level of fitness I could almost be proud of. And so I wanted to take them with me.

When I was reminded that they simply wouldn't fit even if I needed them, which I so clearly didn't, I slumped to the floor in misery. I would need to say goodbye to these shoes that I had no intention of every wearing again.

Having just seen me throwing away my favourite clothes, mementos from some of my most defining days and furniture I paid too much for, my girlfriend found this attachment to discarded footwear quite confusing.

I may never know why I find it so easy to cut some things from my life and so difficult to lose others. I still carry around a movie ticket from eight years ago that is so old, quite literally every single marking has been wiped from it's face. It is now nothing more than a small, blank piece of paper. And I can't discard it. It was such a great night.