a simple life

tiny house cnnI have been reading about people who try living in tiny homes. Some write that these tiny places may be one answer to homelessness. Others tout them as being green and the wave of the future. I think it is a passing fad. As far as helping the homeless goes, they may be a good idea. However, I suspect that most of the people who stay in them for a green vacation or who promise to live in one for a month go back to their regular homes, probably with a sigh of relief.

beatlesI have moved intercontinentally for years, and for years I had a storage unit. Several years ago I finally emptied that in a paroxysm of purging. Some of the things went to my kids, of course, who can do their own purging. A few things I sold, some way below what I should have (my Beatle paraphernalia went for $100), some things went on the street. But I felt freer with only a few regrets. What was left I finally got to my home in Istanbul.

cargo shipThen I decided to leave Istanbul. This time, for the first time, I had movers take it. I had the money and I had about 5 cubic meters of stuff. I had an empty bedroom in my flat and just threw stuff in there that I wanted to send and the rest I sold to my flatmate or left in my cafe. The stuff included a vintage sofa and armchair and lots of boxes. Finally all the stuff got through customs in Toronto after a lot of toing and froing to customs and getting my rental contract translated (the people working in Canadian customs in Toronto are a-holes. It was the nice Asian man at the end who was helpful after two awful women). I could not believe that all my stuff fit into this one big box– but it did. The men brought it all in and I unpacked.

CIMG0090Unfortunately, living in Toronto did not work out for me, so I moved to my sister’s. By then I had bought furniture and household goods and had been given some, so my flat was fairly full. I had a sale and got rid of some things and I sold some on craigslist. What I did not sell or give away went into storage at my nephew’s. I had moved into the flat with 37 pieces and we moved about 25. I had sold my stamp collection, which was about 4 boxes (and one of my regrets still), and I had scanned all my photos and thrown them away, which was another four boxes. Some clothes were passed on, especially professional clothes since I was not teaching and in fact had grown out of them.

Another purging took place when I went down to my nephew’s after several months. This time I had only a couple of big boxes to take to a community yard sale near my sister’s. There I sold a few things, but ended up leaving books, sheet music, and a few odds and ends. The rest I decided to take to Salvation Army, though when we went to drop off one box I was appalled to see that their back room was full of black garbage bags full of stuff and there was junk all around. The next box went to Goodwill. All the rest stayed in my nephew’s basement.

Finally I returned from my last sojourn abroad and decided to get my own little place in the small town near my sister’s. We went down to get my stuff, which took up about 2/3 of a Uhaul trailer. In fact we had just got back into town when the trailer got a flat– the brake had locked and burned a hole right through the tire. So a two hour job ended up being two hours more as we waited for the tire guy to come. It took us maybe fifteen minutes to unload the trailer into my small flat.

img952This is the smallest flat I have ever lived in, though I suppose I could count the tent I lived in for a few months, and that is the smallest. But that is another story. It is comfortable and cozy, though sometimes I feel a little claustrophobic. Thank goodness it has good light and an interesting window in the salon. I am not good at guessing square feet or meters, but it is basically two rooms with a tiny kitchen and a normal sized bathroom. When I lived in Japan, some of my teacher friends were put into containers that had been converted to small apartments– this is probably about the same square meterage.

My kids have made it clear that they are not interested in the stuff I have. And through my purges I have looked at all my many interesting little (or big) things and realized that they are mostly interesting only to me. My aunt talks about how things have stories, which may be, but the stories here concern only me. Yes, I have some things that are family heirlooms of some small value, but as the generations pass, the stories of those things are lost. As I look around here I hear the stories from japan and from Turkey and elsewhere, but they only speak to me. Otherwise they are only mildly exotic ethnic items that might interest someone in passing.

At the end, though, all of my belongings are here in this place, for the first time in many years. I have less stuff now from the purges of the past few years. Sometimes there is something I miss, but mostly I remember things or not. I still have a lot of interesting stuff, which makes this an eclectic and colourful island in this small Canadian town.


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