I saw a sticker on a car today that said “Got Enough?” in that "Got Milk?" typeface.
Good question, I thought. Since I have been moving over the course of the past two weeks, it seemed to be meant for my eyes.
Balancing between want and need is a precarious perch. Dozens, hundreds, even -- of decisions must be made in a move, especially a move from a large two-story house with plenty of closets to a tiny, storage-challenged bungalow.
Do I keep a sleeping bag when I haven’t used a sleeping bag in years? What if a guest comes over and needs an impromptu blanket? What if they don’t? How long do I haul the thing around as it gathers dust?
As a single woman, do I need 10 dinner plates? Technically, no. My house doesn’t fit ten, much less seat ten. But each plate is a different pattern. But I collect them. But they are so pretty.
All of these decisions remind me of once upon a time when I moved back to college at the end of summer. I loaded all my stuff in the back of my huge red and white (red cab, white bed) pickup truck and drove off.
The only problem is that the tailgate wasn’t shut tight. I won’t say my dad didn’t slam it tight. I will only say that it wasn’t ME who was in charge of shutting it.
On the first big bump I hit, the tailgate flew open and a bunch of my stuff tumbled out. About half my stuff. I saw a tornado of my clothes blowing all over the road as I looked in my rearview mirror.
I turned the truck around at the next exit and came back, but there was no way I could pick anything up. It was on a bridge just past a blind curve and traffic was flying by at 70 mph. I just stood there crying as trucks ground my clothes and books and furniture into tiny pieces.
I drove up to school with my mind churning about how I was going to get through the year without my stuff. By the time I had gotten to school, three hours north, I had mentally added up the hundreds of dollars it was going to take me to replace my lost belongings.
When I walked into my new room, I found a sweater hanging in the closet that could stand in for my favorite sweater that had been lost on the road. I bought two new blankets because my others were destroyed.
And that was it. That’s all I really needed to replace everything that was lost. The rest was just extra, stuff I ended up not needing anyway.
But is need the arbiter of what I should have? Some things I don’t need, really, but I love having them around – pretty things, clever things, things that make me feel a certain way.
Even stuff that is not beloved sometimes comes with attachments, like the plastic rooster penny bank that my grandfather had handed me, tears in his eyes, as he cleaned out his dead mother’s house when I was 6 years old. By giving me one of the few toy-like things in that tidy, practical old lady’s home, he was attempting to make me happy and, by delighting a child, salve his own broken heart. Could I really get rid of THAT? The rooster is sitting right here next to me.
The answer to “Got Enough?” is definitely yes in my case. My question is how much less I could do with or should do with. I may never figure it all out.