Graham and I have moved house 14 times in the 11 years we’ve been together. (I think that might be some sort of record – can anybody better it?) We’ve got pretty expert at it, and in more recent moves, quite a bit of our stuff hasn’t even made it out of boxes, as, somewhere in the back of our minds, we’ve obviously thought we’d only have to pack it again in a few months. And – presumably from similar motives – wherever we’ve lived, there’s always been a store of boxes lurking in the spare room, in readiness for the next, inevitable-seeming, move.
I can’t really put a finger on what’s caused our peripatetic lifestyle. There always seems to have been a good reason for a move. Even during periods when I’ve been in the same job in the same location for years, we’ve still managed to have at least four different addresses.
There was a time when moving house filled me with excitement: the idea of pastures new, of taking a(nother) blank canvas – an empty house – and making it my own. Perhaps in my subconscious it was the idea of a new start that appealed: beginning with a clean sheet, reinventing myself, sweeping away past mistakes and getting to start again.
Now, though, the thought of moving house fills me with dread. I figure I’m getting too old for this constant moving malarkey. And maybe I’m more comfortable in my skin, don’t feel such a need to rewrite my story, wipe the slate clean, start again. So, in a show of commitment to our plans for the future and aspirations to build a life for ourselves here, I took all our empty boxes to the bakery, where they’re much needed for packing and sending out orders (which is what I do on a part-time basis).
I do get a strange pang, though, when I’m packing 48 packets of softies for the Co-op, and I suddenly recognise the box, and the legend on the top: ‘Ornaments. Living Room’ or ‘Books. Graham’s. Mostly guides’, or (the one that infuriated Graham most when it came to trying to find stuff before completely unpacked), the enigmatic ‘Odds and sods’. Those boxes have, in an odd, metaphoric sort of way, been a part of my life for so long.
But our life is unpacked now. We’re here, living outside of the box.