One of the worst things about a move is packing up every little thing you own. That’s also one of my favorite parts. As a self-described romantic, I love the idea of being able to reminisce as I carefully wrap and pack my things into boxes. Flipping through old photo albums, and trying on clothes I haven’t worn in years is quite fun to me. And I guess somewhere deep down, I also enjoy the challenge of getting everything to fit into a finite number of boxes in order to prevent myself from needing to go scavenge extras from a local grocery store. It’s a fine balance of June Cleaver organization and Tetris puzzle game nerd strategy in which I excel. This experience probably comes from a now total of 11 moves since the age of 11!
My first major, Earth shattering move was when I was 10 and went to visit my grandparents in Alabama for the summer. Fast forward a few weeks into our stay and we got word that we weren’t going back. My Dad, after the loss of his father, had decided to move to California to find a better opportunity. My brother and I would stay with our grandparents that year while he got settled, and honestly, neither one of us was particularly upset by this. I mean, our grandparents are the shit, purely amazing in our eyes.
The sad part was that we couldn’t go back for goodbyes or to get all of the toys, nail polishes, and celebrity cutouts we had collected over the years. In my dad’s defense, he did attempt to pack up and bring to us what he thought we thought was most important. So my collection of Lil’ Bow Wow magazine clippings did survive the move. I think this was the first time in life that I realized “it’s just stuff”. From there on, I developed a sense that things were temporary. Everything except my photos and collection of birthday cards and letters from grandma. Those are not temporary or meaningless. And in case of fire, please proceed to grab the yellow shoebox containing said letters and birthday cards, for the love of all things holy.
Now, with that being said, nothing about this most recent move was supposed to even remotely resemble that “pack-up-what-you-can-and-trek-across-the-country” move from 16 years ago. As I mentioned in my last post, we were simply supposed to relocate from our Koreatown apartment to a nice little house in the suburbs of Long Beach. After 2 weeks of pulling everything out of closets, cabinets, and off the walls, and carefully wrapping it, we packed up our lives into a 15 foot Uhaul with the help of our wonderful twin neighbors and their families (who we may one day reunite with to build and share a little family commune). But after finding out the next day that we didn’t get the last place we had applied for, we knew our 15 foot plan was about to change.
The day before, we had already rid ourselves of a couch, all the remnants of our refrigerator, our TV, which was gifted to the brother-in-law, and most upsetting, all of our beloved plants. Without the certainty of knowing where we were going the next day, it had to be done. I walked through our apartment building, gifting plants like a young Oprah. You get an avocado tree! You get a mature aloe vera plant! You get a collection of hot ass exotic peppers! Many of them went to the daughter of one of the neighbors who helped us move boxes all day, and really I couldn’t be more grateful that she had honed in on her own green thumb and was beyond excited to take the green babies into her home. But it was a sad moment for me. After all, on top of being a badass mama to RJ, these plants had become my second, third, fourth, and fifth babies since The Man had set them all up for me next to the kitchen.
The following day, the Uhaul was due back at the rental facility, and after extending it for as long as we could (literally up until the next couple needed it), The Man had to take it upon himself to empty the contents of that 15 footer into the parking lot as we quickly figured out what was next. Again, if you recall, by this point we had an epiphany that we should jump on the opportunity he had here in San Angelo. So now, it wasn’t so much a matter of where, but instead, how the fuck???
How the fuck do we fit our lives into a 5×10 trailer that we would now be towing? Never has anyone been more frustrated than he was staring at the pile of things he had just lifted solo out of the truck in less than 2 hours. We’re talking everything from filing cabinets to clothes, to all of our boxes of dishes and kitchen shenanigans. If you’ve been following along you know I love to cook and tinker with recipes, so there were literally no less than 4 boxes dedicated to a kitchen that could barely fit one pregnant woman and one man at one time!
When I arrived to see the contents of our lives spilled out in Uhaul parking lot, I was shocked, but I knew I had to shape up this situation, stat. Between The Man and I, I’m the more calm, level-headed one in times of crisis. I jumped in and started sorting right away: things we keep, things we donate, things to be thrown away. Y’all, this wasn’t easy, but I quickly figured out a system. And also very quickly, people from the neighborhood were coming by to see what was going on. A mother and daughter, along with 2 little girls stopped by and asked if we were giving things away. Quicker than my brain could catch up with my mouth, I said yes and was handing over boxes of the good shit like it was penny candy.
But honestly, I never thought twice about what we were losing, I knew the time had come to say goodbye to these things, knowing that wherever we landed, we’d be able to get them all again. Yes, some of these things held sentimental value and given more time, I could’ve made a pretty penny, but nothing quite compares to the experience of letting go and just being for a little bit.
Instead I tried to focus on the positive, the thought of how excited these people would be to open up boxes to find a full set of dishes, a pretty decent set of knives, a cast iron skillet, and some fun art supplies for their little girls. In my head, I had a plan: we keep everything for RJ. He shouldn’t have to sacrifice being comfortable in new space because of our slimming down. So all baby clothes, toys, and effects made the cut.
Next, I thought about what we absolutely needed: clothes, shoes (i’ll admit, I have a thing for shoes and vintage clothes), important paperwork, my jewelry, our book collection, photo albums, my essential oils, The Man’s tattooing stuff, items from both of our desks, our artwork, and The Man’s ongoing science project consisting of various Korean fermentations for our garden.
That doesn’t seem like that much, does it? And trust me, it isn’t, which would explain our still nearly empty living room and the need to make a trip to the store at least once a day to pick up something as seemingly small as a can opener, which can actually be the make or break utensil in having a successful taco night.
In the whole scheme of things, it wasn’t alot at all. Everything else, mirrors, towels, sheets, book shelves, bathroom effects, bed frame, mattress, stools, literally everything else you might find in a home, was donated or given away to the random people who came and wished us safe travels on our journey.
This was ultimately a 101 lesson in he nomadic lifestyle. Travel lightly and have a minimalist mindset. And we quickly learned what we could do without. Not to say that this wasn’t possibly the second hardest thing I’ve done in my life (going through labor is #1 by a long shot). But by the end of the day we had received a call from our new landlord letting us know we got the place here in San Angelo, and despite our lives now being downsized to a 5×10 trailer and our car, we felt a fullness that we had been longing for. It didn’t matter that we would be sleeping on the floor our first night, it didn’t matter that we would be eating fast food for a full week, it didn’t matter that we would have to restock our bathroom cabinets, we had each other and the promise of a new beginning.
And so began our 24 hour journey from Los Angeles to San Angelo with 3 dogs and a baby.
Now that we’re here and getting settled in, I’m realizing we’re in for a bit of culture shock. Nothing we can’t handle, but I’ll definitely be spilling the beans on that soon!