All About Stuff

My friend Hauself commented on a previous post to ask about our wardrobes, and as this weekend is prep for moving and I am sorting and organizing all my shit, this is a good time to write and work in sprints.

Let me open by saying if Jay was doing this by himself, he would have maybe two suitcases for clothing + outerwear + toiletries, a folding table, two storage bins for personal and work electronics, his one giant monitor, and like two bags of groceries.  Plus extra water and tools and stuff for the car.  Most of the groceries would be coffee and cereal.  He could do this trip in a Prius with room to spare.

But he’s married to me, and that’s why we need a cargo van.

But not for clothes, really.  I did bring pretty much everything that was in my current daily rotation, but that amounts to about 12 pairs of soft pants, 15 3/4 sleeve v-neck shirts, several weeks worth of underpants, a pile of house socks, a small selection of shoe-socks, two robes (one of which I could probably stand to get rid of), one grubby and one fancy poncho/wearable blanket, one ratty sweater-coat, and one cardigan.  Plus the maybe 10 pieces of “leaving the house” clothing I own.

Jay originally brought maybe 2.5 loads of laundry worth of clothes, but actually took a pile to the charity shop a few weeks ago.  I am identifying a couple things that are just about so worn out I should toss or leave in the van for rags or packing material.  I have a few other things that I’ve just realized I don’t like and could probably drop at the charity shop on the way out of town.

I think I only brought three pairs of shoes, and we bought some decent slides after we got on the road.  I also did have to buy a pile of outerwear: a puffy coat, a non-ratty sweater-coat, some scarves and gloves (we already had a pile of knit beanies in our camping supplies), a deerstalker hat, and some scarf ponchos.  Jay still needs a winter coat, but he’s mostly coping wearing a sweater and hoodie, or the shacket I got him at Old Navy.

So it’s not really clothes taking up the bulk of our cargo.

First off, there’s the camping gear.  From first idealization, part of this adventure for me was the opportunity to go camping in some amazing places easily along our routes.  I am as always no minimalist, I like my campsite expansive and comfortably-equipped.  I don’t sleep on the ground, and I need to be able to stand up in my tent (this was also a requirement of Jay’s).  So we have heavy-duty twinXL folding cots, an 8-10-person tent (note that tents are literally measured in bodies crammed in sardine-style, so 8 “people” equals maybe 3 adults or 2 adults and 2 kids/large dogs, and their bags and stuff), an EZ-Up (“market tent”) with wall panels, camp chairs (which I recommend to anyone traveling like this even if not camping, as they come in randomly really handy), and several bins of supplies and gear.

We also have two extremely large tri-fold foam mattresses – twinXL size – that take up so much space but I am very reluctant to jettison.  They make the cots way more comfortable, particularly in cold weather.  We’ve also brought one inside to use as a floor chair when we had friends visiting, and I like knowing we have them if we end up somewhere that the bed is pointedly uncomfortable.

And then there’s the tech.  We whittled down pretty hard, and currently we operate on the assumption there will be some kind of dining table I can work from while Jay works in a bedroom on a folding table we bring.  I brought my ginormous office chair, which I should bite the bullet and downsize to a small model, at which point Jay should really get the same.  Or at least a tabletop adjustable desk, because he sacrificed bringing his adjustable standing desk since it was large, heavy, and awkward.  We both brought too many monitors, and he’s now down to his one enormous one and I took his other enormous one and we’re selling off the four smaller ones I have.  I brought, including my work laptop, four laptops and one desktop.  I only have one lap, and barely one desk.  We have a small bin just of networking supplies – we bring our own Eero network – and A/V stuff (like our own Roku) and cables.

All the rest is domestic stuff.  I brought too much kitchen stuff, which I’m going to attempt to cull this weekend, but there’s also a lot of stuff in there I may well not find in any given airbnb, so at the very least I need to split this stuff up into “definitely bring into the house” versus “leave in van in case of need”, which I think I need to do with my clothes as well.  I’m not even sure why all the bathroom stuff takes two small storage bins instead of one, so I’ll work on that as well.

I did bring a lot of comfort items that I can’t bring myself to regret.  I pretty much always live in a nest of pillows and blankets and supports and rests and the various things that hold me together, all the more so in winter, and almost all of them are in use.  I’m a big fan of covering any furniture I might spill something on, and my own heating/cooling needs can be unpredictable, but most of that stuff doubles as camping gear so I’m not especially sorry.  I did maybe bring a few too many, and will cull them if I must.

I had not really thought about all the weird cruft you just have around in your life, until we started this.  I’ve got a set of storage drawers – wide drawers, even – in which one drawer is pretty much full of first aid supplies and all the various medications and supplements we use.  I’ve got a whole craft caddy of tapes and glues.  We have laundry supplies and pop-up hampers and sweater/lingerie bags.  We have umbrellas and gloves and hats.  We have a few games.  There’s nightlights, small lamps, batteries and charger, outlet extenders, extension cords, and power strips.  Nail clippers.  Tools.

I try to think about people who air-travel full-time, and right now they seem very alien to me.  They probably don’t have any tape, or a giant bottle of magnesium supplements, or an electrolyzer unit that turns water, salt, and vinegar into hypochlorous acid, which is an EPA/OSHA-grade disinfectant and sanitizer.  There was a time in my life when I could hit the road for a month with one suitcase and a carry on, but then I didn’t have to be worried about multiple pandemics and the resurgence of early-eradicated deadly viruses in those golden days.  I somehow also functioned in those days with no laptops whatsoever, and without more computing power than the Apollo program in my pocket, so I guess I just spent a lot of that tapeless, magnesium-free existence staring out windows.  I did, if I recall correctly, take a hairdryer on that trip, which seems absolutely ludicrous to me now.

I’m curious to see if this trip breaks me of being such an accumulator.  It takes a long time to get all this stuff back in the van each time we move, and we’ll see if I hit a point where I don’t keep my wok or my egg slicer or every single one of my throw blankets.

One response to “All About Stuff”

  1. When we moved to the UK I filled my suitcases with kitchen stuff and left most of my clothing behind. I never regret that decision.