Unpacking My Life
I’ve been off grid for a while, trying to put the pieces of my life back together, quite literally. I’ve got socks in the kitchen, Legos in my bathroom, pens in every room, (although if I need one, I can’t find any). We moved to Stocksund in minus 13 degrees, snow falling, with wind that felt like sandpaper brushing against our skin. The movers did double duty, alternately carting in boxes and shoveling snow. Below is a view from our living room, the day before the move (it got much worse). It was a miracle they even made it our hill, a feat that took hours and a call to the Swedish road authorities to come plow (sometimes it’s good to have connections.)
The difficult part though, the really mind numbing puzzle of it all…has just begun. Unpacking. The house is older, large, with a narrow winding staircase that joins all three floors. The master bedroom is on the top floor with dormer ceilings and a fantastic view of the water, however, our over-sized dresser couldn’t make it up the stairs. So after some deliberation, it sits in the living room holding the TV, making what we thought was a good-sized flat screen look miniscule. Hmmm…
Other pieces of furniture found new locations too. A weathered, but sturdy green shelf that had been in Maggie’s bedroom now sits cheerily in the kitchen holding all of my appliances. The kitchen is small, unfortunately, and available counter space a premium, so only my Kitchen-Aid and knife block sit out, everything else, including the toaster, is on the shelf.
The hard thing about most older, European homes is the bedrooms have no closets. (And remember, I don’t have my dresser either, it’s under the TV.) So that leaves the question, what to do with all this stuff??? IKEA, of course. We’ve been there twice and we’re going a third time today, joining the ranks of the unshowered and unshaven for, you guessed it, more closets and shelves.
You know, this was all good and fine 15 years ago when we first moved to Europe, but now this IKEA particle board that weighs more than brick yet feels flimsier than a toothpick, is just getting old. The only consolation I have is that at least I get to eat Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes (and that never gets old).
This move, all this work, the frustration of having nowhere to put anything, stuff randomly strewn throughout the house, (including some garbage they packed, ugh!), has got me thinking…I mean, there are no Targets in Sweden no Wal-marts no Dollar Stores (at least none that I’ve found), no Black Fridays and not even very many sales. Swedes don’t have all this stuff. The orthodontist, for instance, whom Micah goes to didn’t even know what a Water-pik was and I have two!
I’m just saying, maybe, I’m willing to believe, that maybe, possibly, it’s not the house that isn’t functional, but rather me that’s a little dysfunctional. My lifestyle of having more than enough shoes to wear a different pair every day of the month might be a tad off. Honestly, am I wearing all of those shoes?
I’m not sure when consumerism kicked in big time in America. It seems like the children of the Great Depression inherited a saver’s mentality then gave birth to a generation of adults who have since mislabeled “needs” and “wants”. Our economy depends on our “wanting” things. In fact I’ve joked at times my shopping is a service to my country. But all kidding aside, American’s excel at collecting clutter. We’re the only country I know that has chains of stores that specialize in organizing stuff. We fill basements, we over stuff closets; if necessary we build bigger homes.
If I didn’t have so much stuff I wouldn’t need to go to IKEA, I wouldn’t need more shoe racks and bookcases and baskets to put on bathroom shelves to hold my excess of lotions and bath gels, but I’m American and I have stuff, and as much as I’d like to live like a Swede, minimally, simply, it’s just not happening yet. I am getting rid of a deep freezer though, if you know anyone that wants (needs) one, (cause we already have two).