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The Politics of Unpacking.

August 3, 2010

Take a look at the above image.  When is the last time you have sat down amidst a mess of boxes, bags, balled up newspaper and sweat, after hours of hard labor, to enjoy a glass of wine?  Tell me.  I’ll wait.

I’ve spent the past four years of my life moving in and out of places I wanted to live and didn’t want to touch.  Transitioning in and out of dormitories, apartments and homes, never feeling quite as settled as wished.  The process of packing and unpacking grew routine and expected but with every empty room came a different pace of packing, a new ideology on consumption.  The items I found to be necessary in my room one year before became trash the next.  The posters on my walls were eventually switched out for art collected while traveling abroad.   I began to appreciate the minimalism and functionality of a space–a completely different view than my previous desire to clutter and cram.  Packing and unpacking began an ironic commentary on growing up.  I could measure growth in the quantity of boxes and the quality of the items inside.

After graduating from college in May and realizing the fast approaching expiration of an apartment lease, I began the job search like most others in my position.  Not having immediate luck, I soon came to terms with the idea of moving back home.  So when it was time to pack, my process was slow and procrastinated–much like my hesitation to return to small-town life.  The resistance to the unknown became my resistance to pack to get there.  After completing another cycle of packing and disposing, I returned home.

I now sit in my old bedroom.  I’ve gone from an apartment to a bedroom.  I’ve gone from independence to parental roommates.  So, the boxes sit.  Nothing is touched.  It is as if me beginning to unpack would solidify and confirm my presence here, my living here again.  I want for the boxes to stay filled so they can be transported again, moved again, like the many times before.  However, I don’t know when another moving truck will appear in my driveway again and that’s the newest fear.  Everything is linked to that move.  Success is measured by the move.

I started unpacking a little while ago.  I settled on unpacking the necessities and keeping the rest in their respective boxes tucked away upstairs, ready for the next move.  It’s a safe compromise.  I’ve begun to transform my bedroom from its high school decor to a mature design.  I’ve allowed the unpacking without accepting the unpacking, because I know that another empty room awaits and countless cardboard boxes are waiting to be filled again.

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