• vsigston

Going, going, gone

Three days ago we landed in Kefalonia, an island in the Ionian sea, to the West of mainland Greece.

Me, my husband, our two boys, 3 suitcases and 4 backpacks of varying sizes.

Apart from leaving behind a selection of carpentry tools, a box of teddies, a bag of Lego, a guitar, a coffee machine (my husband’s greatest love!) and 2 or 3 boxes of personal effects, these suitcases, bags and clothes on our back are all we own.

House sold, furniture, clothes and toys gifted, sold or donated. Car sold. Everything gone.

I thought it would feel hard, and there have absolutely been moments when I have stopped and asked myself “what on earth do you think you are doing” but in reality it has felt incredibly freeing. I feel lighter, not just physically but emotionally too. Like the weight of all our “stuff” had been loading me down, holding me back and now I am free.

I am writing this with the absolute clarity that we are extraordinarily privileged to be in this position, so many people live with next to nothing through choices that were not their own and do not have the luxury of money in the bank as a back up should they need it. I see my privilege and am thankful for it.

It feels back to front that we spent years working hard to buy a house and fill it with stuff. To own a car. To have wardrobes and cupboards full of things only to get rid of them all again, but I feel like it’s been a really important journey.

One of the things I am asked about the most is what “made the cut” what did we pack in those cases and bags so I thought I would share some of that here…

A house full to the brim with books has gone. Now the eldest and my husband both have Kindles (Ebooks). I am trying to come to terms with reading “just” from a screen so am allowing myself one physical book at a time too — it’s in my backpack so I am very aware of the space and weight I am allowing to it. Once I have read one I will pass it on and move to another. Our youngest brought 2 of his most precious books with him too. But you know what — there are books everywhere you look! It’s not hard to find or borrow some more. We can download or lend books from those around us, read articles on the internet and peruse newspapers and magazines in coffee shops on our travels.

The house full of toys has gone too — a couple of the most loyal soft toys have accompanied us of course, some lightweight card/puzzle games and fabric frisbees also made the cut, but again you don’t have to look far to find someone willing to share their bag of toy cars or to find some buckets and spades left from visitors past.

We now have exactly 6 days worth of clothes each — 6 days of underwear and T-shirts, a couple of pairs of trousers, shorts and/or dresses, a jumper or two, a set of swim clothes and a jacket. If we go to a country where we need warmer things they’ll be easy to find and the boys are still growing like weeds so need new clothes periodically anyway. Our eldest said to us last week “I am enjoying not having loads of clothes to sort out”, keeping his laundry organised and his bedroom clear of piles of clothes was a constant battle for him, I wondered aloud if he’d remember this feeling and take it into adult life, he said he hopes so and so do I.

We’ve each got one pair of shoes that we wear and a pair of lightweight shoes/sandals for beach days packed. The boys also bought a thin fleecy blanket each, they were Christmas presents last year and we felt something comforting to snuggle in might be important.

A large chunk, in terms of space is the tech. I’ve mentioned the Kindles, alongside that are mobile phones and laptops plus chargers and other paraphernalia that go along with them. These have been non negotiable, we need these things for work and the boys studies so space and weight must be found.

A very big item that has made it’s way with us is a foldable piano/keyboard. Now this is a huge luxury and something that was thought about very keenly. But, our eldest is obsessed with making music — he lives and breathes his piano and one of the things he was most worried about was not having access to a keyboard. When we watched how sad he was for the 4 or 5 days between saying goodbye to our piano and getting this new one, and how much joy the new one arriving brought him we knew we had done the right thing. It’s a full size keyboard with semi weighted keys and folds exactly in half. It’s fairly lightweight (coming in just under 5kg) and very compact and whatever happens we’ll make room for it as we go. (I’ll do a separate post about that if people are interested).

Other than that there are a few notepads, again for studies and work along with two pencil cases with useful stationary, then our personal hygiene bits and pieces (deodorants, hairbrushes, toothbrushes, multivitamins etc.).

That is it.

It’s been a long process — probably 4 or 5 months of slowly emptying our house, then 3 weeks of pairing down again once at the caravan and another week of being really brutal after staying at a hotel before we flew out but here we are and feeling good.

How would you manage the task? Could you break down your belongings into a backpack and a suitcase? What would make the cut? Let me know in the comments below.

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