Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Box Collector

Here are most of the boxes I used to move into my new home recently. (This picture doesn't tell the whole story, since the bigger boxes have multiple smaller boxes inside them.) For the past two years, these boxes had been stored in my brother's crawlspace.

When I went into the crawlspace to collect my boxes in preparation for the move, I had to admit something about myself:

I'm a box collector.

I've done it for years now, probably because I move so often. Because every home is a temporary one, I want to hang on to the boxes that were so helpful to me during the last move. Meanwhile, I buy new stuff and keep the boxes it came in, in case I'll need them for my next move. (In my latest move I probably had at least a dozen shoe boxes, for example.)

Some boxes have been in my life a long time. I got the one above when I left my first public library job in 1994. It's a nice big, sturdy box, with handle-holes, made for transporting books. For 15 years, through 11 moves, I've filled it up with my oversize books-- atlases, coffee table novelties, and large comic books-- and lugged it to my new place. It's been with me longer than most of the people in my life.

My predilection for keeping boxes was really just a symptom of my transient nature. But now that I've bought a house, I'm putting down roots and don't anticipate another move. And so it's time to deal with my "problem." I need to let go of my boxes. The first step was letting my brother throw out a bunch of empty ones that were not even employed in this move. There was a pile of them left in my empty apartment and he wanted to throw them out. I grit my teeth and said, "I'm going to look the other way. You do what you need to do."

Then a friend of my brother's family was looking for boxes because she was moving. I reluctantly agreed to let her at my beautiful, beautiful box collection. It's time to let go. So I piled all my boxes in the corner of my spare bedroom and let her take what she wanted. I was a little offended when she rejected some of them. In other cases, she took the box but left the lid! How can you disrespect the sanctity of the box like that? Why, a moving box without the lid is well, I can't think of a better metaphor than a box without a lid!

I was secretly thankful that, before I let select her boxes, I had put a few special ones in the closet. Like the library box above. It's been in my life too long to be discarded like that.

Now let me tell you about my bag collection...

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