Thursday, March 25, 2010

Getting ready to retire -- it's hard work!

I thought once I made the decision to retire, the rest would be easy. I’d go through a few papers, toss a few, keep a few, and that would be it. Not so. I’ve found this process of packing up and moving out very slow going. I’ve already dumped piles and piles of documents into a huge trash bag, and my office still doesn’t look like I’ve made a dent. No shelves are completely empty, no drawer is void of papers or supplies, and every wall and table and desk top still has things. I’ve packed up one box of personal things and left it on the floor for two weeks. Why don’t I just pick it up and bring it out to my car and drive it home? Then I could fill up another box and another and another.

Why am I so hesitant to break up this office and make it look like I’m actually moving out? Well, for one thing, assembling all my personal things in here and taking them home means finding a home for them there. There is definitely no room for all of this stuff there. I only have a small home office space with a limited number of drawers and shelf space and most of that is already filled up. I have no more room for all the stuff I have accumulated at work. And, I don’t want to give any of it up. It is all meaningful.

For example, I have a little sock doll that I got from my Uncle Phil that used to sit up on one of the shelves. I have toy cars and a set of boxes that belonged to Paul, I have several pieces of art glass, I have my family photos and the one of Bob and I with Bill Clinton, and I have several pieces of artwork on the walls: Paul’s prize winning water color from 6th grade, photos of the paintings I did for a harpsichord soundboard, a group of collages Adele did after Paul died, and a wonderful Doughty water color. Now how could I get rid of any of that? Plus I have a huge amount of photos – of family, friends, Adele’s work, and favorite New Yorker covers pinned to my wall. It’s all near and dear to me. It’s all important. And that’s my point. I don’t want to get rid of any of it, and I don’t know what I’ll do with it once I dismantle it and take it out of here.

So I’m stuck in inaction. I just sit here and look at it. And, now I’m just sitting here and writing about it. It’s the way I felt about 8 years ago when we actually thought about moving out of the house we’ve now lived in for 30 years. I opened one file drawer, saw some files that I couldn’t bring myself to look into, and I shut the drawer almost immediately. And, right then I decided there was no way I could move. Moving is just too daunting for me. It means looking at everything, reliving every memory those things bring to mind, and then making a choice about each and every one of them: keep or toss, toss or keep.

I also know another thing about myself. Once I get the stuff I decide to keep into my home, I’ll not rest until they each are in a proper place. I won’t be able to stand a clutter of unorganized boxes and papers. And, once I’ve settled on a place for each, there they will stay. I have things sitting in the same place in my house for over 10 years. The only time they get moved is to get dusted. That’s me. I’m a creature of habit. I don’t like change. And I especially don’t like to move.

Well, I still have a month to go. I’ll get it done I’m sure. But, every decision will be heart wrenching and difficult. It’s what moving out is all about.

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