I arrived in Italy nearly four years ago with a 60L backpack and a 30L daypack and a rather large handbag, all packed as full as I could manage.
At the time — especially with it on my back! — it seemed like a lot. I have minimalist tendencies, and I’d been thinning out my worldly possessions for a couple of years at that point. (It is not lost on me that I was in my mid-20s at the time and had barely accumulated any worldly possessions to start with.) What I was carrying was a decent fraction of everything I owned, the rest of it being in boxes tucked neatly under my parent’s spare single bed.
I’d thought about getting those boxes shipped. In the end, I didn’t, for much the same reason I’d been decluttering in the first place: my life involved a lot of moving around — from one sharehouse to another in Perth, then to Glasgow (and two apartments in one year there) and then to Italy — and moving stuff with me just seemed like hassle.
It was much simpler to approach every new place as a short-term venture, making do with what I could carry. I did a lot of laundry, since I only had a week’s worth of tshirts. I stuck to cooking foods that used the same few spices, so I wouldn’t have to throw away nearly-full packets of spices the next time I moved. I rented furnished places and sweet-talked my way into getting bed linen and kitchenware included so I wouldn’t have to buy any.
I’ll never be one of those minimalist lifestyle bloggers, but I have to say, there are advantages to living like that. If you do move frequently, you have a lot more flexibility. You save money, since your default answer to “should I buy that?” is “no”, and the cash stays in your pocket. You get creative at problem solving, and after a while it becomes second nature to realize things like the fact that you can use a roasting tray as a lid for a saucepan.
But… let’s go back to the start of this post. I arrived in Italy nearly four years ago. In that time, I’ve moved house once, but that’s still the two longest leases I’ve had since I left my parent’s house. I don’t need to live out of a backpack.
I only really grasped this a couple of months ago, and I’ve been on a mad acquisition spree since. Well, mad by my standards. I bought a rolling pin in December. I bought a teapot on the weekend (isn’t it pretty?) I made a New Year’s resolution to buy a second set of bedlinen so I could stop having to wash them first thing in the morning to get them dry by the evening. (That’s not even my lamest new year’s resolution.)
Ironically, I’m doing all this “recluttering” when I have a year left on my work contract and no idea what I’ll do or where I’ll go after that. But for the next 12 months, having some stuff is a great way to feel like I’ve got stability.
I think teapots are a legitimate thing to get excited about!
This is encouraging to me. I’m sometimes stuck between the “minimalist ideal” and the “American dream” because I’m not sure I like the idea of either. I also just found out that the next few years will likely be moving every couple months or even every few weeks for my husband’s med school clinicals, which is daunting. Especially when trying to figure out how to give my family some semblance of a home. Thanks for reminding me that life is lived in SEASONS, and even if we so live two years practically out of suitcases, there will be time to build a homey, secure place in a different time in our lives. This post brought some peace to my day.
So true about seasons! I totally get caught up in thinking that whatever’s going on right now is forever, but that’s so seldom true :)
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I never bothered to declutter – I just left all my stuff at my dad’s ;-) To be fair, on visits back I’ve got rid of loads. Mainly it’s just my books that are still there, and I can’t bring myself to part with books.
A teapot is definitely something to get excited about. I love mine!
Hah, an awful lot of my stuff at my parent’s place is books, too!
Loved this post, you write so well Zoe!
A pretty teapot is on my list of “things I want if I’m staying in one place for awhile”. Having lots of stuff is exhausting if you move around a lot, and I still don’t know how I’ve accumulated so much in just a few years in France. I’m with you on the don’t buy stuff and the cash stays in your pocket point. I love cash in my pocket. But it’s nice to have a few things that bring you joy. It’s totally reasonable to get excited about having a teapot if you ask me, and that rolling pin sounds pretty cool too.
I kind-of-sort-of regret the rolling pin though, because I bought a cheap one, but before I had my own whenever I needed one I’d borrow off friends who had really nice ones! But I guess it’s nice not to have to message people with “can I borrow your rolling pin (again….)” every time you want to make pastry ;)
I’m just impressed that you’re crafty enough in the kitchen to have regular use for a rolling pin!