Less than a week

I’m writing to document this process but will probably publish later as it’s just too insane now to be sure what I’m publishing is okay.

In less than a week we are getting on a QANTAS plane and flying halfway across the world to Toronto, Canada. I’ve never been there before. And we’ll be staying there for a year. We’re leaving all the comforts of the best place in Australia behind and taking a big gamble. Yes, I’m going to have a great master’s degree from a prestigious university and it’s exciting living somewhere new. But it’s going to be hard. What we’re going through now, selling everything we can’t take, living in chaos, this pales in comparison to the difficulty we’ll experience over the next year.

So Melbourne.

We’re going to need to establish ourselves in a strange place fairly quickly. Then our children will need to get used to being without us during the day. We’ll be on a single income, and that’s providing Mr Chewbacca can find a job. The commute is going to suck. And it’ll be worse in winter. But we’re doing it. I must say it’s liberating to relinquish all these worldly goods, offload everything we really don’t need as well as things we just can’t take like electrical goods.

Regular sightings of hot air balloons out our window in Melbourne. I wonder if there will be in Toronto?

Getting rid of so much, you start to realise just how little you actually need. Even things you thought were important become just things and you can let them go. It’s hard for me because I am very sentimental about stuff and I like to document everything. But the more I do it, the easier it gets. Mr C freaks me out on a daily basis by expressing his worries around whether our stuff will fit in the four cubic foot container we are limited to, and I am momentarily worried enough to go through and cull books or random things in the cupboard I realise I don’t need.

She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid.

Things that have been hard to offload:
– My sewing machine. It was a 21st birthday present from my parents and I love it, even if it took the sewing machine repair guy five months to service and repair. I have passed it on to a sweet friend who vows she will be only too happy to pass it back should I ever return.
– Artwork and schoolwork from my primary school years through to art school at university. I had no time to go through all this so it was chucked in the recycle bin.
– Our car. Our lovely and shiny Subaru, the only new car I’ve ever owned, with all the bells and whistles, had to be sold, that’s it. Boadicea will be passed to her new owner the day before we fly out and we are sad as she is a great and beautiful car. Plus there’s no way we can afford to buy her sisters in Canada. Her great aunt’s cousin twice removed is more what we’ll be in the market for.
– Our mattress. It is the most amazing surface I’ve ever come in contact with and sleeping on it is heaven. King Koil is the way forward! Mattresses don’t hold their value either so as soon as you buy one it’s worth maybe a quarter of that immediately. Irony is that people pay huge sums to stay in hotels and sleep on mattresses that hundreds of others have slept on and done Lord knows what on. Weird.
– Some of the kids’ toys, like the lovely wooden blocks passed on from a dear friend. At least I passed those on to another lovely friend who will appreciate them.
– Mr Chewbacca’s original Star Wars toy collection from his childhood. Sold for about half what they’re worth and will no doubt be sold on for much more, it was an amazing collection. Ewok Village, Millennium Falcon, AT-AT, four tea crates full, some in their original packaging.

There are lots of other things I found hard to let go but as I kept doing it, it got easier. And then it started to feel liberating! Yay, no more stuff! It’s certainly weird seeing our furniture slowly dwindling down to nothing though. Luckily most of what we have was acquired for free or bought second hand and we are not attached to it. Only our bookshelf is coming with us, a freebie that we sanded down and painted and upon whose sides we mark the kids’ heights every six months. A garage sale this last weekend in Melbourne has seen our furniture reduce down to our dining table, Dude’s bed, bookshelf and a few other small things. Our house is echoing!

Hotel time about four days before we leave so that’ll be interesting with two little kids. No idea what will happen with all our food. It’s not like an interstate move where you can pack dry goods.

Dude has had ridiculous amounts of screen time in the last week or so and will probably continue to once we arrive but we’ve agreed that we’ll use the big change as an opportunity to wean him off it. There’s something really unsettling about a four year old staring at a screen like a zombie. And the mood afterwards or if we try to switch it off or take away whatever device he was playing on? Not good! Lots of outside, screen-free time for this kid!

So the next step in the big move begins: the packing and uplift of our belongings and moving out. Please let it all fit in the container!!

Materialism and minimalism

Drafted at the end of May this year. Two months until we flew to Canada.

So the latest thing we have to confront in our quest for a possible home in the northern hemisphere where it snows in winter is the cost of relocating our goods. To move everything across, excluding electrical appliances as the voltage differs too greatly, is simply not financially viable. We need to cull.
Now this shouldn’t be such an issue for us given we don’t have a lot of stuff as it is and the majority of what we do have was either free or cheap, but this isn’t just a matter of leaving out a few things we don’t really care about. This cull sees us leaving behind three quarters of our worldly possessions. These are things we’ve had not just since we first met but things that belonged to each of us years before, as children, even things that belonged to our parents and grandparents.
The bookshelf is the hardest piece of furniture to give up, even though we were given it free. It was blue, purple and pink and missing a shelf but we recognised it as a solid piece of furniture with style and we sanded it down, bought a new shelf, and painted it a chalky, off-white gloss. It wasn’t long before our then-toddler smashed the rocking chair into its base on many occasions and chipped off bits of paint. But we stood him against its side every six months and marked his height and the date with a felt tip pen. It was to be a portable height chart. When our daughter arrived we marked her length at birth on the other side. It was almost as good as owning our own family home and marking heights on a doorframe. But now, will even the bookshelf need to find a new home? And the books it holds?

Today I chucked out some books I truly don’t like or want but it was just a handful. In truth, I love our collection of books, from Mr Chewbacca’s extensive Ian Ranking collection and the thick one about South African history that he assures me he’s actually read to all those Steiner ones ill probably never read and old favourites like Atonement or the Anthony Keidis autobiography or the Star Wars almanac. I’m struggling to come to terms with the possibility of leaving them behind to pursue an avenue that may actually prove wrong.
Everything is riding on this. It has to be right. But I’ve never felt so uncertain.