Moving On


May 22, 2016 by Paula Reed Nancarrow

Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been a month since my last blog post.

Confessional 1953 Belgian CongoActually, a few days more than a month. This was an unanticipated break in my exploration of the art of contentment. Or maybe not. Maybe I have been exploring it all along. Nevertheless, it is going to take me a few entries to catch you all up.

As most of you know from my last post, I was preparing for a move on April 24, to a one bedroom apartment. The first place of my own I have had since the recession, and something of a monumental event, at least in my own mind.

I rented a U-Haul truck and hired movers to drive it and do the heavy work.

U-Haul helps you calculate how big a truck you need based on the space you are moving into, and estimate how much time you’ll need the movers for. They also give you a way of factoring in more than one stop if necessary – which it was, because I had a storage unit in the suburbs near my former home for all the things I did not want to get rid of but could not take into someone else’s space.

Based on U-Haul’s formula, I hired two men for three hours and rented a 10’ truck. I met the movers at the store. Independent contractors essentially list themselves on a page of the U-Haul site, along with their prices, service, and reviews. I chose the same company that had put my stuff into storage.

That day the universe saw fit to stage a tremendous downpour.

20160424 Moving Truck in Rain

Rather than go to my roommate’s house first, we decided to go to the storage unit, where it would be easier to back the truck up close, and where I hoped the movers (and my things) might get less wet. I was also hoping that the rain might let up a bit before we had to go stomping in and out on the sheets Mare had laid down to protect her carpet.

It didn’t let up. The movers still got soaked. But they were cheerful about it. One of the guys looked familiar. When we opened the unit and took a look at my stuff, he said “I think I remember this rocker.” Turns out he put it in there. “You have a long memory,” I said. “That was 2012.”

After everything from the storage unit had been put in the truck, it was clear U-Haul’s formula had betrayed me.

It was a 5’ x 9’ storage unit. Why I had thought a 10’ truck would be enough for that and the stuff at Mare’s house that I had actually been living with I do not know. We were going to need to make two trips. So we went to the new apartment, which is on a busy one-way street close to downtown, to unload. Fortunately we were able to find a place in front to park.

My unit is on the third floor. One guy emptied the truck. The other guy carried stuff up in the elevator. There is a small storage locker in the basement for things that I don’t need to have to hand, but it is not accessible from that elevator; you have to go to the first floor and then down a flight of stairs. It was clear by now that our timing was going to be tight. I told them to bring everything up to the apartment, and I’d figure out what went down there later.

I paid for an extra hour’s labor to go back to the house for the second trip. Fortunately they had not scheduled another job back-to-back, and that was possible. Our luck was not quite so good the second time finding a place to park. But finally they were done, the truck was returned, and I was alone in my new place.

It is a Come to Jesus moment when a single woman whose children have grown and whose house was foreclosed on is reunited after four years with the contents of her storage unit.

There was some really important stuff, like an orange and green tile trivet made by my daughter in the third grade with gaps between the tiles that mirrored that gap-toothed smile. The story my son wrote in Eagle Harbor about Black Charcoal the Axe. My grandmother’s haunted sewing machine. And all the toys my eventual grandchildren were eventually supposed to play with when they eventually came to visit.

Then there were things that just made me shake my head as I unpacked. A set of dishes that hadn’t sold at the garage sale we had. Hairbrushes my daughter had left behind when she went to Korea to teach. If she hadn’t wanted them, why had I saved them? A plethora of bud vases. When have I ever used bud vases, and why did I now have so many? Had I really thought there would be a place in my new life for a 30 foot outdoor orange extension cord on a reel?


I have wanted to pare down my material possessions for some time now.

To embrace minimalism even more than I had. I had been thinking of the storage unit as a challenge in that regard. But surrounded by boxes and boxes of battered things, littered in mouse droppings, it was all too overwhelming.

The ratty Ikea particle board desks and bookshelves oversized for the space. The chair bed I thought was a good idea at the time, but could not remember how to move from one position to the other. The lamps bought to go with a sofa and chair I no longer had. I was on an archaeological dig through my own past. I sat in the midst of all that clutter and let the question arise. What on earth have I done with my life? 

I have a friend with whom I occasionally talk about regret.

About whether it is ever a reasonable emotion to indulge in. Is it related to grief over the options that die each time we make a choice? Or it is just maundering guilt and shame that does nothing to move us forward?

Of course when I am feeling better, I know better. Though there are many binary choices – either this or that – our emotions around those choices, and the way they affect other people, are far more complex and nuanced. They also come and go. In the move I have had discouraging moments. I have had creative, energizing moments. And gradually I am carving out a space that feels like home.

It is enough. I am content.


21 thoughts on “Moving On

  1. bikerchick57 says:

    Paula, I’m glad you have your own space with all of your “stuff.” I pared down quite a bit when I moved in with a girlfriend a few years ago…my own personal recession. We share a storage unit as well. Eventually, I will move back into my own place, but this is affording me a little breathing room that I didn’t have before.

    As for regret, I have some. But I choose to focus on all that is positive simply because my life is pretty full and happy these days. I am content!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. GeorgieMoon says:

    I feel your pain. I worked out the other day that I have moved house 45 times in my life, so I’m not fazed by the packing up and storage, although I always feel sad looking through my few possessions and thinking that they never had a proper home. Five years ago we moved onto a sailboat and sailed from UK to Greece. I had to get rid of everything! When we come back to the UK for the winter, I rescue my meagre boxes of what’s left of my past life and have them round me for a few months before packing them away again. I’m thinking I don’t want to live like this anymore…..


  3. stuckinscared says:

    “It is enough, I am content.”… Is such a beautiful quote, Paula. One I hope to echo in the near future.
    Your new home looks, well, homely…even from here that kitchen has a warmth about it… I’d be happy sat at that table :)

    I can relate to the life-time-of-must-keeps…that HAVE TO GO! I’ve been packing our home up for a while now (though, as yet there is no new home to go to), and have been, like you, amazed at some of the things I deemed must-keeps at some point in the past.

    I’ve had no choice but to be quite ruthless in sorting the wheat from the chaff, as the new home will be considerably smaller than the current abode. There are some things though (no matter how chaff-y they may appear to someone else) that I just can’t part with. EVER! :)

    I wish you much happiness in your new home. x


    • I hope so for you too, Kimmie. I have also been in that packing up before there is someplace to go space, and it is very stressful. And I agree, one person’s chaff is another person’s cherish. When I was forced to leave such things behind, I took a picture. It helped some.


  4. elainemansfield says:

    Welcome back to this part of your life. I’ve missed you. It’s reassuring to read your post. I’m glad you’re creating a new nest for yourself. A place of your own. Contentment about that one thing sounds like a start.

    I know there are more chapters and troubles ahead in your story, but this post works for me. I live in a big three bedroom 200-year-old house where I’ve lived since 1972. I stopped sorting and tossing and giving away in 2006 when my husband got sick–and then there was grief and then writing a book and then promoting a book. I have overflowing bookcases and a cellar of old boxes and canning jars. I have boxes of papers that need sorting, shredding, or saving. I have notebooks of slides to digitalize because they contain the images of my life. I’ve vowed to take it on, each day, a little at a time. I need to clear out and start over right where I am. You inspire me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Elaine. I am told scanning papers while binge-watching Netflix helps. Couldn’t do that for images and stuff I need to treat reverently, but for the stuff that just plain needs to be archived and catalogued, maybe. If I had Netflix, that is.

      I always appreciate your thoughtful responses. And that Castaneda quotation in your last post (or at least a recent one I caught up on) really stuck with me this week.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Judi Lynn says:

    My husband pitches things. At first, it made me crazy. If we hadn’t used it in a year, it was gone. When I looked for it, I didn’t have it. Ugh. But now, I appreciate our yearly declutter. We still have more than we need. Your move filled me with too many emotions, a little overwhelming. The joy of a fresh start and the memories of the past. They jumbled together, but I’m focusing on your fresh start. Spread your wings and enjoy!


  6. DeeScribes says:

    Glad you have your own space again. I will be moving at the end of summer and have committed to getting rid of at least half of my things. I will NOT be renting a storage unit. It’s a promise I made and I intend to keep, no matter how difficult it is to pare things down.


  7. jan says:

    I always like to live in a space a few days before deciding what needs to go. Sometimes a bit of creative storage makes a huge difference. Best wishes for a smooth transition!


    • There’s truth to that too. One of my minimialist bibles insisted I needed to throw out all my old ratt towels and buy new ones. Or give them to Goodwill, or an animal shelter. I had the bag ready to go. And then I had to color my hair, and remembered why I wanted a a ratty towel around…


  8. Terry Tyler says:

    When I moved up to live with my now husband, in 2009, I had to downsize from a two bedroomed house with just me in it, to a two bedroomed, very full flat, to share with another.

    At the age of 50, I got rid of everything I didn’t need. I haven’t missed any of it; I don’t even know what it was, now it’s gone. I kept the most important – my photograph albums that I’ve kept since 1976, my books (but even then, not all of them), and a few things with REAL sentimental value.

    I hope you are very happy in your new home, and welcome back to the blog world – I’d wondered where you were!


  9. Looks nice and cozy. I always found a move was a good excuse to get rid of some crap.


  10. Love the idea of minimalism but I love even more all the treasures you discovered from your kids. Interesting thought about regret. I’ll have to think about that. Best wishes to you for a smooth transition and a bit more carving. 💕 I hope you are happy in your new home.


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