As of last Friday, we had fifty days until the lease for our two-bedroom, first-floor, comfortable Chicago apartment would end. We tucked the baby into his crib and started sorting items from our walk-in closet into piles—a ruthless but comforting routine: keep, donate, donate, keep, donate. Bags filled our front hallway, twenty strong at least, with well-worn clothes, shoes, jewelry, electronics. I've read that the average American household has over 2200 visible items in just the bedroom, living room, and dining room; it felt like we had somehow shoved that number into our bedroom closet, the ship's hold for anything from spare ribbon to circuit boards, trumpet mutes to picture frames. Not only did this purging process—which for the closet alone took three nights of post-bedtime frenzy—clear the space and lighten our moving load, it illuminated how much work we really had to do.
When we were in Florida last month, we held this tantalizing idea at arm's length, examining it for flaws, searching for reasons why it couldn't work. My enthusiasm was tempered by the ticker tape in my head listing the detractors: What about insurance and doctors? What will this cost? What if I got pregnant? But the further we delved into the possible obstacles, the more benign these worries became. We constructed a calendar, a dreamy year in which we spent more time with our families and still inked our passports in new places. And so we committed, without the oppressive presence of our things to weigh us down.
Since returning to Chicago almost two weeks ago, we've already had one couple breeze through our apartment, accompanied by our landlord, asking about the ease of parking and how our radiator heat holds up in winter. Even so, time remained suspended as it does when you've just finished a really good book or film, when the world seems less tangible than the vibrancy of your imagination. Until Friday, the true urgency of moving hadn't descended. We've been taking advantage of the warmer weather to let our son toddle around the courtyard out back with the neighbor's two-year-old daughter. I've been scheduling doctor's appointments and meet-ups with friends, scattering familiar faces across July like seeds. I thought I should probably throw a party, but I know how I like to plan parties. And there isn't time or space in my head to make that happen.
We're at forty-seven days now. I've already re-watched three stand-up comedy specials by Eddie Izzard as I've sorted. I remember before moving to Chicago from New York five years ago that I succeeded in completing at least six seasons of "Murder She Wrote" on Netflix, and I'm at risk of flattening the series to maintain momentum. We have six areas in the apartment left to purge, but we can't assign a room to each weekend—that would be a clever way to organize a home we're planning to stay in. We still need to pack the things we decide to keep. We've started a Trello board to help Kev and I coordinate, creating our respective "short" lists from the master "Oh, dear Lord" list that dominates the page.
But the next true hurdle will be deciding where to move our things once they're packed . . . and baking my way through the pantry stores while we do!