I remember reading a slew of articles a few years ago about becoming possession free. The articles profiled hipsters who lived in tiny NYC apartments with minimalist furniture, a few sets of (hipster chic) clothes, and had uploaded everything onto their slimline mac airs and subsequently had no need for the shackles of books and vinyl (although the lack of the latter surely goes against another hipster code, right?). I remember reading repeatedly that people did not want to be ‘tied down’ by their possessions, to be able to be free to travel and ‘exist’. I thought this was ridiculous – I agree wholeheartedly that possessions are not the most important thing in life, but to actually be restricted by them seemed so foreign and frankly unrealistic.
Having said that, two nights ago I spent several hours in a cold 3am panic worrying about exactly that – our possessions. My partner is in the final stages of the recruitment process for a potential new job, which would see us relocate halfway across the world. (Actually, it would be across the world. Wouldn’t halfway across be a quarter of the way? This has always been unclear to me.) Four interviews and one presentation ago I thought it was a great idea but now that he is flying over there for the final stages I am suddenly questioning whether this is something I really want to do.
And the way I questioned it? Panic about what to do with our BBQ. Why we spent money on a new, lovely couch only to have it sit in storage for potentially several years when I want to be sitting on it now. Thinking sadly about my lovely kitchen appliances, my kitchen aid, our knives. Fretting about our art (such that it is), festering away unloved and unlooked at in a crate somewhere in Western Sydney. For three hours.
Of course, it’s not really our couch or our BBQ that bother me about the move. It’s leaving behind networks both old and new, some of which I’d only just started to feel like I belong to. It’s leaving three lovely nephews with whom I want my girl to grow up, and watching them grow into wee men. It’s leaving my forever friendships, my girl’s Guidefather, people who I love and with whom awkward ‘get to know you’ conversation is an oblique, distant memory, now merely ‘how we met’ stories. It’s the initial months of loneliness and the fear that this may linger painfully for longer than months, or at least feel like it.
In the more positive light of day, my reason kicks in. We can return to all of this, our lovely life here, at any time we choose. With modern technology and travel possibilities we won’t actually miss all that much. And the gains will be phenomenal – a chance to live again in Europe, to travel and experience life elsewhere. To fulfil a dream of Tim’s, who’s never been able to do this. To expose our girl from a young age to the wonderful wide world and with luck, languages unspoken by her (embarrassingly monolingual) folks. To be a little family doing this together, a great adventure on top of the already life changing adventure of parenthood. It’s exciting, but not a little daunting; hence the possession panics.
As much as we love craft beer and cold brew coffee, by no stretch of the imagination are we even remotely hipsters. However, I am trying to take a leaf from their e-books and not use our possessions as a crutch, an excuse to stay here. Trying not to think friendships can only be in the here and now, and trust that they – and I – will survive either a half or a quarter of the world’s distance, whichever it ends up being. Trying to be more brave, I guess. (And also not to worry about it prematurely, because he hasn’t even got the gig yet.)