I’m moving from one apartment to another. The move is neither necessary nor urgent for the lease in the old apartment does not end until August. Because of this strange in-between created by two months’ time I do not need to move all of my stuff into the new apartment. My sister, with a flick of her hand and a nod of her top-of-the-head bun announced “then we’ll only need the essential things.” She packed clothes and my MacBook and her stuffed animals and called it a day. I sat in the middle of my room and was stuck. But what are the essential things?
My sister spent the first night in the new apartment on a pallet on her bedroom floor. “I like sleeping on the floor,” she explained to justify why she believed the move was both necessary and urgent. I think what she meant to say was: “I like new things.” This apartment is new because it is new to us. It is also not as old as the plaster walls and gas stove that were our old apartment. But age rarely defines newness. This apartment is new because it has expanded our living situation to include two other people. This is a new place that is closer to other new places and why wouldn’t you want to sleep on the floor if you could experience all of that?
To my sister a bed is not an essential thing. For me, it is. Deeming a bed essential has less to do with bodily comfort and more to do with peace of mind. Sleeping in my bed swaddles my brain– not my arms and legs. My sheets are covered in crumbs and threaded through with long strands of my hair. I’ll run my hands over these rogue pieces of myself until an area as large as my body seems clean enough. And then I will fall asleep. I am safe in my bed in my old apartment that is old because the walls are too hard to nail into and because it is not my new apartment. I still sleep there but it’s where I used to live.
I cannot move a bed yet because I lack the bed of a truck to move the mattress. A bed for a bed! Maybe if I can see the hilarity in something like that I can warm up to the idea of my old apartment bed fitting into my new apartment room. The floors are covered in carpet. I do not like carpet. My window looks out on the parking lot. I do not like parking lots. But what if the essential things can make up for all this? What if I really did move the essential things in my life into this 10×10 space and called it my new home?
“…then we’ll move all the essential things.” My sister needs clothes to look cute when she goes out and she needs my MacBook because it is cooler than her Toshiba. She needs her stuffed animals because even when she jokes about them they are essential. They are comfort and they are the light to her sometimes heavy heart(ed). She has tapped into something with these stuffed animals. The good stuff. The stuff I’d move if I had to look around my dirty dusty messy frustratingly lovely old apartment and choose just the “essentials.”
My dream catcher. Someone was in my room the other day and asked: “What’s that?” “A dream catcher.” They shrugged and started talking about something else. It doesn’t look like a dream catcher. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t belong in my room, over my bed. In my room at home, in my room in my old apartment home, in my room in my new apartment home. My mickey. I’ve written about mickey before. So much in my journals and even in my columns that I’ve forgotten if I capitalize his name: Mickey the mickey blanket. He’s the one thing (and thing is not a good word here for he is a being and he has a GENDER) that I decided I would save if my house were to ever catch fire. Or my apartment. Or the hotel where I was staying when I was 8 years old and made this decision.
My sister. We have separate rooms but if I were forced to choose just the essentials she would make it into my new apartment bedroom. My mother. Things are starting to get tight. My two journals that I kept before I decided that typing my thoughts made them more permanent. Maybe my essential things are getting mixed up with my bedroom things and my life things. See how complicated and emotional this whole apartment moving thing is getting? If my sister insists on sleeping in her own room and my mother needs to stay home to tend to the male members of our family then I can keep them in smaller forms. Pictures. Yes my new bedroom needs pictures. Before it needs rugs or pillows or even picture frames.
Have you ever read that book called The Napping House? All the living creatures in the house and around it come into a bedroom and nap on each other. On the very tip top is a fly or a flea or something that fits nicely on a stack of larger living beings. It’s like a big old pile of all the good stuff. It can’t possibly be comfortable, but neither is sleeping amidst crumbs and hairy sheets. My new bedroom will eventually be ok, filled with things I need and things I simply want. People will come and go and touch my things and maybe leave some things behind. But if I lived well, really well, I’d be sleeping on the tip top of all the essential things. I’d let my arm drop down and stroke the layers of my life: the inanimate objects, the thoughts worth keeping, the people who make places home and home wherever we can all be together.