How much can life change in the space of a couple of weeks? A month ago I was living in the comfy confines of my parents’ home, casually contemplating life and writing out my blogs at a leisurely pace. I had not long arrived there post disastrous holiday, but with a renewed sense of what I wanted from life. Then I started getting offers for work overseas as a nanny again, and the more I got them the more I pondered life and how to move forward, and the pros and cons of life in Australia versus a nomadic life again. Lo and behold, I decided to go for it, and this time last week I left my family to return to Melbourne for what was a crazy week of farewells, organising and packing.
Having written my post about recycling and trouble getting rid of the excess in my storage unit, the timing was perfect to spend just a short week there preparing for my flight the following week.
Subdued in a long-lasting melancholy of how to move forward in life post-university, my extended summer holiday break had got me thinking seriously about my future, for the first time since everything well, stopped.
Caught up in a series of extracurricular projects, my last year of university passed in a blur of poverty, homelessness and volunteering. I don’t even know how I fit study in, it certainly wasn’t a priority by then – survival was. I remember one week realising I didn’t have enough money to get to class on the bus past Monday’s classes, and borrowing university financial aid for bus fare. I was so sure all the volunteering would give me those amazing ‘transferable skills’ employers look for, that I was one step away from my marvellous future. I just needed to survive the year. Lightening my load was never an option.
One of these projects, an event, carried over into the months after my undergraduate study finished. By the time the event was done I had started my post-grad degree, and a second short course, and found myself caught up in study plus seeking work and working in temporary jobs that would maybe lead to something more interesting. I had a career direction in mind that I was sure was the future I wanted – job security, interesting work, great salary; my future stitched up. Talk about a minimalist life – when I had my graduation ceremony in 2014, I was living in a hostel, had no computer after the robbery, then two donated, old heavy laptops, but no place to study, was surviving on unemployment benefits half eaten by credit card debt repayments, credit that had been spent originally on day to day living when money was tight. All my things were stuck in storage around the corner, but life was just, survival. Certainly not living. Continue reading
These posts are helping me so much in writing out the story of my stuff, how it grew, how it has followed me around the world, and why it clouds my mind every moment of the day.
Having read the Minimalists’ book Everything that Remains this summer, I am newly inspired and itching to get at my stuff, ready to be free of the clutter of my mind and storage unit. Ready to do Tiny living, minimalism my way.
However, there’s one problem. Where to put it when I let go of it. Continue reading
As I do every summer since I became a student, I am visiting my parents’ home for an extended period. During my past stays since I first left home in 2002, including all the short trips home from overseas, I have always been distracted with my stuff stuck in storage here – now relocated interstate with me and into a storage unit in Melbourne.
For the longest time coming home meant ‘shopping trips’ for pre-loved clothes I had forgotten about, books and other knick-knacks. It meant hours in the unit rifling through boxes to list the contents of each box or container or bag – so I knew what I actually had – or sorting it out, reorganising it even. It meant repacking my bags to leave things behind and packing new things, or even (over)packing it all desperately to try to have everything with me. All this amongst the usual home rush to see friends and family as much as possible. Coming home was always one big stress ball for the added pressure that my storage unit gave me among such a full schedule – more so once my niece and nephew were born, because spending whatever time I could with them shifted my priority rightly to them. Continue reading
I started writing the content for what would eventually become this blog just over a month ago. In it, I lamented about the huge amount of decluttering I had to do. I noticed a habitual pattern of collections, and decided I should shake that habit – or at least decide what to do about it. I wrote and wrote about three pages of frustration about the hoarding I have done over the years and my efforts over the past five years to deal with it.
Then my laptop got stolen. Words. Gone. Go figure. The irony of decluttering and having certain things stolen from me in a robbery was not lost. I hated that my precious, sentimental and favourite things were gone. Jewellery from my childhood and 21st birthday. Two computers, my passports. And random things too at times, like my shopping cart (getaway vehicle!) and favourite Thai sarong (to wrap the laptop in?). A lot of data was gone. But thankfully not the external hard drives I had carelessly left on the desk that day. They had my entire photo collection on them.
It’s November 2013, 5 weeks since the robbery, and I’m trying to move forward. Continue reading
By your late 20s, how much had you/have you accumulated? If you had to pack it all up in suitcases and boxes – how many pieces would you have? How much would it weigh altogether? Would it all even fit in boxes and suitcases? How much would you have without counting furniture?
When I first moved overseas at the age of 23, I took 1 small and 2 large suitcases. It was about 70kg that I tried to take with me on the plane to London. I was moving over for ten years, I determined, so I wanted all my favourite stuff with me. Except I didn’t have anyone to ship it to; no one I knew had ever lived abroad long-term before, so naively, I thought the only other option was to lug it all myself by plane. Continue reading
The day is 35 degrees Celsius. I am due to leave by overnight train for my holiday destination late in the day. Two days earlier, I have packed up ‘the big stuff’ and moved it back into my three-quarters full storage unit: my bike, extra blankets and bedding, my Christmas tree and decorations, a barely-used camping washer I thought could substitute an actual washing machine. I was tasked thereafter with packing my clothes back into their long-term home (my favourite large suitcase) as well as packing up my blow-up mattress and mismatched, ill-fitting bedding and towels, my beloved radio/cd player, my fan and portable rail/wardrobe, ready to move out of my latest temporary home and back into their packed up status in their usual boxes and shopping bags to live in my storage unit. I was loathe to pack up the fan and make do with open windows of hot air for lack of any air-conditioner.
What are the signs of an eternal nomad? That I never throw away boxes because surely I will soon be packing the contents back in again? That I have an unusually high collection of green, chilly and other cloth shopping bags for random stuffing at each move? Is it normal to own no less than 6 suitcases that are constantly filled? Since 2002, I have lived out of a suitcase – travelling, living and working in 13 countries around the world. Back ‘home’, despite seeing it as the sign of having too much, I have rented storage space almost the entire time. Nomad. Hoarder. Guilty.