Selling my flat in London and moving to a rented, furnished room in Seville means that once again, I need to sort out my STUFF. But when you’re a single parent, however old your kids, their stuff is your stuff until they buy places of their own which nowadays, means never.
I have friends who have lived in the same house for more than 40 years and have a loft, cellar and sheds. Not for them the decisions on whether six tea towels are excessive in a drawer or if clothes un-worn for a year are not pulling their weight. I have moved nine times in the large 20 years, hauling my kids and my late husband’s memorabilia the length and breath of England. Shelves of vinyl, piles of The Face and Rolling Stone magazines, plastic boxes full of school work, files of my husband’s advertising storyboards and a hammock never used since it was bought in Brighton in 1997. This time the Sylvanians, Lego and Stars Wars are not coming with me.
I’m leaving the UK because I want to find out who I can be at 70. In many ways, I want to start anew and although I respect my past, I don’t want it staring me in the face every day, reminding me of those halcyon days when I was a married mother of three with a Volvo, a range cooker and a Border Terrier. New adventures beckon and I want to travel light.
Over the years, I have proved to myself that I can make a nest anywhere and, as long as I have season-appropriate clothing, a notebook and pen, functioning smart phone and hearing-aid batteries, I can survive. I will store my notebooks, diaries and family photographs. Art will be distributed to offspring or stored. I’m planning a book sale because they weigh so much but I know I will keep too many. It’s the random objects that will be packed with love. A Mallorcan liquor bottle in the shape of a woman in traditional dress, a glass-topped box full of pieces of rope, crystals, mule shoes and bits of fabric that I picked up on a trek in Morocco, my father’s only stuffed toy – a Fox Terrier dog that must be at least 80 years old. My mother’s weighing scales. Birthday, Mother’s Day and Christmas cards from my kids and a blue and white hand woven cloth that I bought in Bulgaria.
All this and more can sleep snugly in storage until I find my next permanent home and for the moment, I have no idea where that is.