Putting Life in Storage

Detail of marbled silk


It feels like I’m putting parts of my life in storage.

When military families move overseas, we’re permitted to store some of our belongings under the assumption that we won’t need all our belongings in an overseas location. I’m pretty ambivalent about the process.

First, let’s get the whole “we own too many things” assumption out of the way. It’s true. Americans in general own too much stuff and my family doesn’t escape that stereotype. My excuse is that we’re supposed to stop moving soon and I don’t know what I’ll need for that final house. The truth is that I love our stuff. It tells our story, from the sea shells we’ve collected from our many vacations and assignments to the coast to the collection of mates from Argentina and beer mugs from Germany. We own brewing equipment that we want to use again, camping gear that we use when appropriate, surf boards that we keep even when we’re assigned to city living.

Which is probably why I hate the process of sorting our items for storage. I have to place a value to each item and decide if it is really worth keeping. And, if it is worth keeping, why can afford to store it for three years?

Some stuff makes sense. We plan on apartment living in our next location so taking a lawn mower, a patio set, and gardening tools isn’t practical. Nor is it in our best interest to sell it all when we plan on using it again in the future. It makes sense to store mementos of our life like baby blankets, sweaters and quilts made by loving hands that I one day want to give to my grandchildren. It might even make sense to store some books as our collection is huge and our space may be limited in our new home.

One of my early quilts – made for my first baby and being saved for his first baby.


It becomes harder to justify storing of my collection of quilting fabric – a hobby that I love but haven’t practiced for the last four assignments or so. I plan on sewing again but I’m tired of trying to find a spot for my craft when the living arrangements of the moment just don’t blend well with a hobby that needs space. The same goes for dying equipment. I used to make the most wonderful hand-dyed marbled scarves. I really miss it. But in order to practice this art, I need a garage, at the very least, or a studio with tile floors and sink would be even better. Just touching my sewing machine, holding my tools, or opening a box of hand-dyed fabrics that are waiting be pieced, makes me mourn for the person I used to be. I’m tired of putting parts of myself in storage. I’m sure I’m not the only military spouse to feel this way.

A selection of marbled silk scarves.

My new found art, one that is more portable, I share with you a few times a week. It’s a combination of both writing and photography. With photography I get to frame a scene, to admire good light, and to manipulate color. With writing I pull the photos into a cohesive story; I pull the stories into a cohesive blog. I guess that makes a blog somewhat like a quilt, bits and pieces that may not seem to fit together when you look at a small piece but when seen as a whole, it just works.

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8 thoughts on “Putting Life in Storage

  1. Send me some stuff. I’ll keep it safe and dry for you for at least 3 years. The space available is 1/2 of a garage. [ My sneaky, less than generous offer, is being made in an effort to have you land somewhere vaguely near me on a semi-permanent basis. ]

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    • What a sweet offer! I do know folks with little bits stored here and there all over the US, some with family and some with friends! I can’t imagine trying to collect it all. Since you and I are on opposite coasts, I’ll pass for the moment but if I’ll keep it mind for the next time. Anyway, if I stored my fabric stash with you, I’m afraid that Sara might get a hold of it and put it to a good cause!

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  2. My husband had already acquired a lot of stuff by the time we got married so I have been in a constant state of trying to downsize during all of our moves. (While you love your things I have only “endured” mine for the last 14 years) You were able and smart enough to find your man early; acquiring lovely keepsakes from everywhere you traveled has been a shared adventure. I do have (finally) that same thought of planning for the house we will own someday and have (guiltily) the same fabric collection. Something like fabric, canning jars, or any hobbie is the hard sell isn’t it? It takes up a lot of space but it is clearly cheaper to keep than replace it later when you do intend to use it again.

    “Putting parts of my life in storage” – exactly the role of the supportive, constantly-uprooted spouse and family.

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    • You get it completely… and let me tell you not everything we put in storage belongs to both of us. I “endure” a few things myself… I’ll never forget the speakers we got rid of one move (supposedly), only to find them a move later in our storage shipment. He was so happy to see them again even though he had willingly given them up before. I think this must be very American – not all cultures have this connection with their stuff.

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