Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Why do we Choose the Things We Choose to Choose?

Moving makes me look at myself under a microscope.  Why do I have the stuff that I have?  I have been living in this snug little salt box of a house for the last 7 years, 10 months.  That's a long time in one place.  I haven't lived that long in one place since I moved out of the house I grew up in at the age of 12.   In my twenties as I moved from shared house to shared house or studio apartment, I pretty much had to keep my belongings at a minimum since I had no car and needed friends with trucks or station wagons to move me in just a few trips.     

Now, as a "serious" adult, I have my own car (albeit an old Subaru that is on its last legs) and the power to rent a moving truck.  We are moving from a 1500 SF house with a 400 SF studio to a 3400 SF house with a 400 SF studio.  I have the luxury to keep whatever I want.  When I moved into this house, I began to collect things: free furniture, potential art supplies, dishware to serve 20 people at table, and more stuff that I had room to store and didn't need to think about.  But now as I am picking through and packing things, I am purging.  A lot.  And it is satisfying.  I think I have taken at least 30 bags to Goodwill in the last 2 months as well as a big trip to the dump as well as giving away stuff to friends.  And we still have a ton of stuff.  Yet some things I insist on keeping despite their "low value" level.  

Like this Coca-Cola bottle I brought home from Israel.  I was 14 and it was my second international trip.  My first one had been to the UK when I was 12 and that had been pretty enriching and exciting and where I first discovered the Cure and toast holders.  But the trip to Israel to meet my sister's fiance, a Palestinian named Sami, was beyond exciting.  A truly foreign country!  A Coca-cola bottle in a different language!  Something that would have been carelessly tossed away I treasured and carefully wrapped up in my luggage and brought it home with me.  And it has been through eleven moves in 24 years and now is about to embark on a twelfth move.  

I think, somehow, I have always been predisposed to be interested in sculpture.  I don't scrapbook.  A rational person would keep photos of the trip.  Me, I keep a bottle, something physical and tangible that really proves I was there.  It's heavy and has a sensuous feel. 
Why keep it? I mean, I don't even like Coca-cola and really can't stand its symbolism of a corporate power in America.  Coca-cola has done horrible things to expanding economies and has ruined millions of teeth and waistlines around the world.  And yet I love this bottle.  It represents to me the excitement of embarking on something new and totally unknown.  We rarely force ourselves to deal with new situations outside of our comfort zone.  At least, I rarely do anymore.  I can't speak for you.  But this bottle makes me think of new experiences and new places and will be proudly placed in a spot of honor in our new home. 

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