When you move a lot you get very good at packing, unpacking, and writing the word “FORKS” in large capital letters so you can find silverware when it’s time to eat.
I’ve moved around in my life..more than the averae bear. During the really busy years in Husband #1’s career, we ended up moving 9 times in 5 years. Not exactly as often as those in military life, but often enough for a young guy just out of college with a new wife in tow. I’ve watched my treasures get packed, unpacked, and packed again. In fact, I’ve gotten very good at packing boxes in cars…so much so that I put a full-sized dresser and a whole bedroom’s worth of goods into the back of a Toyota Tercel hatchback. (That car was tiny…and oh so good on gas mileage.)
When you move around a lot, you also figure out what’s important. Like what you want to keep, because you’re going to eventually find yourself lugging it up at least one flight of steps with a narrow landing and not enough muscle power to avoid dinging a wall and swearing like a sailor.
One thing that I’m drawn to is quality. Years ago I stopped buying like I still lived in a dorm room and started planning my purchases like an adult. Gone are the days of giant wire spools for coffee tables, hand-me-down mattresses, and directionless decorating.
I want my possessions to be of high quality, enduring, and to last me for longer than a year. I have a few pieces that have made the move with me through the years. I love them. The poster bed and matching night stands that Husband #1 and I purchased together to celebrate our first house. We replaced a futon from our college days. The matching crystal stemware that my former mother-in-law and I purchased together will be with me always. It reminds me of our bargain shopping together…each stem was marked at $5.99 and she made sure I had water, wine, and champagne glasses for 20 people. Her advice to me was, “You never know when you’ll throw a party.” And I have treated guests to much wine in those glasses. My fancy Christmas dinnerware, with gold “Joy to the World” hand-painted on white china…I bought it for $1. And while I only use it for Christmas Dinner, the $20 I spent 10 years ago still brings me “Joy” to see it on the table as we eat our turkey and mashed potatoes. And most recently, the purchase of a teak outdoor dining set from Restoration Hardware that Husband #2 and I picked out for our patio installation. We wished each other a Merry Christmas with that gift.
Now that the kids are getting older, I can finally ditch the cheapo sectional couch in favor of a beautiful sofa I’ve admired for years. I’m getting it upholstered in white to fit my seaside cottage theme. Not brown, not blue, not even canvas duck. It will be white. It will be just for me. And when it starts to look old and dingy, I’ll get it reupholstered because the frame will be of quality and I keep things that bring me happiness.
The next time I move, my old solid wardrobe and heavy dining room table will come with me while the IKEA dressers will not. Frankly, it’s cheaper to throw out the old dressers and buy new than to fill valuable space on the moving van with weighty, bulky particle board pieces. I can find more IKEA furniture. I can’t find more antique barrister bookcases.
I have a dream for the current generation. My hope is that they come out of this Disposable Everything World and learn the value of quality. That good wooden bones and hand carved structure will trump plastic, plywood, and mass-produced. Like our favored heirlooms, our relationships should carry the same value. We need to remind our kids (and ourselves) that people are not disposable…relationships need care and tending…opportunity looks a lot like hard work. Otherwise we’ll end up throwing away something of great value simply because we think it’s disposable and easily replaced…just like everything else.