Sunday, January 3, 2010

Master of Properties

There is something liberating about getting rid of one's possessions. In a way I really didn't expect. While I realized that I have pack rat tendencies and love shopping....I also have great affection for the items I surround myself with. They're by no means more important than people...but I carefully select them as they set the tone for my house, the ambiance, the feng shui, whatever you want to call it. My house is me and I am it, so says the my favorite book as a child, The Big Orange Splot. That door knob, that book, that chair, that vase of twigs create the environment I want to live in and therefore are important to me. My house is where I want to be and it looks like all my dreams. So says Mr. Plumbean.

Only the dream's changing.

But what surprised me is the relief you feel at liberating some of what you formerly considered prize possessions. When moving out of the country, the unique, 1930's Japanese-inspired spinet piano becomes a burden but one that still needs the perfect home. Thank you, Maryam, who will love it and cherish it and value its originality. The 1920's, ironically English, arts and crafts armoire that has crossed with me and my life around the country from Seattle to New York to Los Angeles, sadly cannot make the journey back to its country of origin. Someone offered me a fair amount for it but told me they intended to paint it white...I had to refuse on principle. The idea was too horrific....I would rather have donated it.

When first considering moving out of the country I looked around the house and really tried to assess not just what I loved but what was irreplaceable. Unique watercolors and pastels, the cat-around-a-fish-bowl cookie jar that was gifted from my late Uncle Tom, the small round brick with holes in it that I found on the beach while at my brother's wedding in England, the white jar with a red lid with a masking tape label, written in Finnish designating "rye flour", written in my late mummu's (grandmother's) handwriting. Those things I can't replace. You realize that what has to make the trip isn't your favorite pair of will find another favorite pair when you arrive. But the things that have sentimental, personal, or irreplaceable meaning....those have to stay. Even if I can't take them this first flight, I will pack the storage room, whatever size I get, with travel sized boxes or luggage that visitors can retrieve and bring to me.

Part of the adventure is realizing that moving doesn't mean parting with everything that doesn't fit into the suitcase. That just because I have a certain allotment financially and physically on the first airplane ride doesn't mean I have to give up the things that are important to me, be it photographs, knickknacks, pets or friends. But at the same time you realize that one little bowl I found at the flea market isn't important but the one that sat on my other grandmothers' shelf is. It may not be valuable. It may not be precious. But it's specific. And therefore irreplaceable. But at the same time you realize that "because I love looking at it" is a valid enough reason to try to take it along.

But it's not just about the possessions - I love buying things to sell on eBay or at the flea market or, even better, just to give away as that perfect surpise gift, given for no specific reason. The pewter tankard for Daniel or perfect vintage dress for Tami or a Hawaiian shirt for Dan or the vintage Indian salt & pepper shakers for Trisha found while scavenging at Goodwill. But when you sell your own things all of a sudden the idea of moving isn't about uHaul or bribing friends with pizza and beer to lug heavy furniture. It's a clean slate. A new vintage. A crisp, open pond with small stepping stones that only lead a few feet into the water that are basically asking you, challenging you to find a way across. I won't go alone or empty handed, but I will have to find my way....and in a way I haven't done since I left for college. And perhaps it's even more of a clean slate than that. I'll bring only what's precious; nothing extraneous.

What's also strange is I'm ready for these "things" to go. I think perhaps for the first time I understand minimalism. The lightness of the soul in traveling without burden. Of course, I have most of my furniture still so I'm not there yet, but the big items are actually accounted for and the rest of it I've talked to an auction company about. I suppose there is the bright light that whatever I sell, whatever money I earn from the sales, is money I can use to go shopping for something just as fun and fantastic. Antiques Roadshow: Kirstie Bingham: U.K.

Today I call to get the information to wire my application fee to the agency, which should put a "let agreed" sign on my cottage....meaning, for all intents and purposes, it will be mine. The holidays have interrupted the plan but today I get to take the next step. But for all of those who know me, love me and had potential doubts I was serious, here's all you need to know:

Today I sold my wine glasses on eBay.

Now you know I'm definitely going.


  1. Oh what a most amazing leap of faith, Kirstie. I can't imagine a more fitting adventure for you, whether you stay in England for the rest of your life or continue to explore the world in leaps and bounds. I am only so sorry that I've been so wrapped up in my selfish life these past couple weeks that I didn't respond sooner when you casually mentioned, "I'm thinking of moving to England"! I sure hope you've got some miles to use for a certain friend's wedding this summer... and WHO will help me find/make the coolest & cheapest decorations now?? Let alone the wine?! See, it all comes back to my selfishness. How DO you put up with me? I adore you and treasure your friendship, K. Can't wait to see where this journey leads you. Love!

  2. oh my gosh! I am so excited for you...can I come? I'll bring the animals???

  3. I stumbled onto your blog through a facebook reference from Marin Younker - and I think I know your sister! Is your sister Jennie? If so, I am Carl Bolstad's older sister. (if not, then well, disregard) Anyhoo, I am so excited to live vicariously through your adventure. Old stone houses make my heart pound, and unfortunately there are not many in the NW corner of the United States (Whidbey Island). So I CANNOT WAIT to see your pictures of the inside of your new pad. Oh, how dreamy and exciting!

  4. Oh, girlfriend! I wish you all the best!!
    I had the same feelings when I had to "let things go" for my American adventure. It will be 10 years now on January 22nd. It is liberating and refreshing. It is frightening, but yet exciting. It's almost the feeling of stepping into a dark hole... you have no idea what in there... but once you jump, you find out how "easy" it is to make things happen in your life.
    We think too much, we create our own fears, we sabotage ourselves.
    Listening to that little voice inside of us isn't as simple, but the sense of pride when you make that jump is unexplaineble... and makes you think why you took so long to do it.
    I'm equally excited and can't wait to hear more!
    Free for wine (ohhh, I have the glasses!!)