Recently, I moved out of my apartment to rent a house between the coast and the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. It’s an old New Englander style home with a small barn. It, at one time, belonged to my girlfriend’s parents who now live outside Washington, D.C. It’s a good house and we pay a cheap rent. And it’s temporary while I finish graduate school. But that doesn’t mean the move in was easy going (seventeen boxes for just my books). I had to abandon furniture on the street corner in the city where my apartment was, sort through the many DVDs my roommate and I shared to see which DVD belonged to who, and move a couch that was too big to get in the apartment and eventually spent a week stuck in the hallway of the house.
And I’m still unpacking.
When my parents first visited my apartment, they stopped at a Target to buy me all the cleaning and storing supplies I could need. This included, but was not limited to, a Swiffer Wet-Jet, a Swiffer duster, environmentally friendly cleaning sprays and solutions, sanitizing wipes, napkins, paper towels and a very large collection of tupperware. Some of the tupperware was new, while the rest, I could tell, was the result of a vast cleaning of the cabinets at my parent’s house.
Since moving into the rental house I have yet to unpack most of my clothes (they’re in big black trash bags), boxes of writing, various bits of paperwork from the bank and student loan offices, and a multitude of desk instruments. After finally tripping over the plastic bag full of tupperware, and toilet paper, I decided to put it away.
For a long time this house was sans tupperware. My girlfriend and I were partial to sticking leftovers in empty and washed 32 oz yogurt cartons. But, without being able to see inside the container, and often mistaking them for yogurt, visual inspection of said contents proved the food to be well past its prime. We started to tape pieces of paper with dates and contents labeled. But then the tape ran out. So we pulled a few bits of clear tupperware out citing just these few would be enough.
Shins scraped and toes stubbed I opened the cabinet where we store glass baking dishes (now doubled from my additions) and baking pans (again, doubled) and those few pieces of tupperware. There was no room. I began doing what any 26 year-old man does given this circumstance: cramming.
I stacked and I shoved into intricate corners creating mini Pisa towers. I shut the door. It stayed shut, and I walked away.
But now everything is starting to look as if the walls are closing in. Like there is actually too much stuff. Maybe there are too many boxes in my office (do I need all those pens?) and maybe we could’ve gotten by on yogurt containers. Where did this other fan come from? The microwave is in the basement, what else can I put down there? Out of sight, out of mind… I may be out of my mind. The commute to work is so long? What edits are there to make on those articles come Monday morning? Could I lose my job after the first week? There is so much laundry to fold before my girlfriend gets home from work and we’re having guests over. I shouldn’t have downloaded so many podcasts because I know once I start listening to Radio Lab or Fresh Air I can’t do anything else.
But hold on.
Because this is a house, and a house has rooms that invite and guarantee space if you let them. And if I sit for a moment in the living-room by myself, the walls relax and expand until they’re just walls again.
I go back to the cabinet. All the tupperware is still there as I left it and it looks like it fits.