I just moved. My new home is beautiful and new and shiny and smells so good I want to slap someone. I'm glad to be here, but the process is horrendous. I think if Dante had ever moved, he surely would've made it the most vile and feared level of hell. First, there comes the excitement of buying boxes and measuring for fun new stuff. The first few items are always carefully packed with bubble wrap and lovingly laid in boxes secured with packing tape. Books are stacked neatly in bins. Clothes folded and stacked by category. By the end, I wantonly threw things away into construction bags with the wrath of a praying mantis chewing the head off her lover as soon as the mating is over. I gleefully watched as burly junk guys tossed bag after bag into a gigantic truck and signed a check with a flourish to make them take it all far, far away. With each kerthunk of junk, I felt lighter and lighter. I have too much stuff.
I tell myself that I will stop buying crap I don't need, and I figure that'll last about two weeks. By then, I'll have unpacked all the stuff that was spared the furious purge and the memories of the horrors of moving will have started to fade. The kids will wheedle me into buying them trinkets and sporting goods and clothing items. I'll see something shiny and be blinded with desire and make impulse buys of books.
Why do I, and many others, if my informal polls are to be believed, think we need so much stuff? And more and more of it to the point that it takes a week to move a household and half a garage full of trash has to be hauled away? I suppose I'm doing my part to help the economy, but what about the gross overconsumerism (is that a word? I don't really care, because I like it) that seems to overcome me, especially when I get sucked into the shopping vortex that is Target? Do I really need another floaty dress? Another pair of kicky sandals? Knives with adorable patterns on them? Books? Well, of course books. Let's not go crazy. The answer, obviously, is no.
I read a pithy meme (at least I think it was a meme - my daughter says I don't get it) about buying experiences rather than things. I'm trying really hard to bypass the cute plastic summer cup and plate set by telling myself that money could be put into a jar (NOT that adorable one over there with the lemons on it that costs $12.99; one of the MANY lined on shelf I already have at home) and saved up for a fabulous vacation, preferably to Malibu. Ah Malibu... but I digress.
At this writing, I have vowed never to move again until it's into a grave in hopefully 50 or so years. I'm looking around, exhausted, at the boxes still waiting to be sorted and unpacked. And if you see me in Target, eyes glazed over and reaching for Crap I Don't Need, please slap the items from my greedy hands and remind me that it's just something I'm going to have to pack one day.
Courtney is a most fabulous writer and teacher of gifted middle school students. She is the author of two novels - see the "Cate Books" page of this site for information! Watch for updates about future books that need to be part of your personal library. In the meanwhile, enjoy her pithy life observations.