Another round with the personal property inventory. Another round of tears. At this point after so many months it is kind of embarrassing so I try to hold my breath or sneeze or something to keep from sounding like I am crying again.
I realized earlier this week that I did not think about whether or not I would make it back home but instead was thinking about making sure I have all the things I need for the new house. It is beyond thinking we will finally be able to go home. It is the presumption that “of course we will go home, why do you even ask?”
I am a do-er. I suppose if you have followed this blog at all you know that. In order to be ready, I have been gathering up every thing from plumbing parts to bedspreads. I have them all laid out in organized piles in the basement of this house. The land is starting to take on health and our blueprints are drawn. We are going to go to the County in the next few days to submit our paperwork. The architect, builder, my spouse and I have met and re-met, and met again. I pull together information for us all and then write it into what I hope are organized emails.
Tonight while taking a quick break from inventory activities, I stood looking at the huge dining room table here and at the glassware that was covering one end knowing there was more in a cabinet. I thought to myself, “Do we have enough storage space for all that crystal?” Treating it as a math problem to be solved, I mentally went thought the closets and cabinets in the house to be and then looked around this temporary house where, along with plumbing parts, occasional furniture pieces are starting to pile up. Amid the carefully organized and clean jumble I counted shelves and drawers. Quite a lot shy of the space we can fill up, I thought to myself I was glad that we had “‘Bill and Jo’s’ Cabinet in the kitchen. It will hold a lot. Hm…It should also hold things that I have never had space for before like a mixer. Well, I don’t care all that much about a mixer. I have a lot of crystal and china. Will it fit in the pantry like the last house? Well, no, it won’t fit into the pantry like it did in the old house. The pantry in the house to be is a real pantry, not just a deep cabinet. Well, it is not too large a pantry, that is how we got Bill and Jo’s cabinet.” My mind was starting to mirror the carefully organized, clean jumble of the furniture. Like moving through the waiting furniture, it was getting hard to get around in there.
In January we were in the second round of design after the first spectacular house that was not quite us had bid out at over $600,000 which absolutely was not us, we were looking in every direction to try to preserve the concept of the house while cutting the budget in half. One of the losses was a butler’s pantry. I have always wanted one and we had multiple versions of very cool ones. In the end, it had to go. While we were working diligently on the plan I remarked, almost casually, “I sure hate to see that pantry go but we just don’t have any space left in the kitchen if we want to walk around in it.” Silence from the northwest of us where the architect and his wife live. Several days later there was excitement and the coolest cabinet in the world. It is 14 inches deep so it does not impede walking and you can just whisk stuff off the counter into the cabinet in a flash. Seems Bill and Jo figured out that about everything you need in a kitchen is less than 14 inches wide so about everything will fit into that cabinet. And, as big as it is, filling one wall of the kitchen, everything WILL fit. Even when we end up accumulating a full complement of kitchen detritus again everything will fit. The cabinet is sort of like Dr Who’s Tardis, the size on the outside belies the capacious insides.
After the dramatic “Bill and Jo Cabinet” saving the “I lost the pantry” day, I decided I wanted the door that had been removed from earlier plans back in the plan. Only problem was that the Bill and Jo Cabinet was on that wall. Poor door, in and our in and out. Finally, back in. That took up 3 feet of our cabinet. Big loss! But, doors are good and cabinets are not quite as good as doors so we have the door and a smaller cabinet that 14 inches by 3 feet wide and 10 feet tall. It still is really big. So tonight when I was counting plates and crystal and linen napkins I remembered we had “Bill and Jo’s Cabinet.”
As I came back up the stairs to take on another round of the inventory, it struck me how unbalanced things were. Why should I be worrying about having enough storage space when less than a year ago everything we owned except our birth certificates, marriage license, baptismal certificates, passports, computers and what we had in two suitcases hastily packed when we evacuated, had burned up.
So full circle to the personal property inventory. We must be finished. We have to be finished. We have put hundreds and hundreds of hours into it trying to document the things we had. As we go through the process we have come to realize that we had a lot of really valuable stuff. It was valuable to us because we liked it but it is also valuable on the commercial market.
We never really thought about it. There was a vase bought on the roadside in China when I worked there in 1993. There were photos and paintings. There were Kachinas and furniture. Marbles and monuments. None of them cost a lot of money. All of them were found carefully. All of them wanted to come home with us. All of them were things we found along the road of life. All of them had come home.
All of them won’t be returning home with us when we go. That is what makes the inventory so sad. We knew each thing and what they were about. Each thing had a story. Each thing was part of our history. Each thing was part of us.
So when I was trying not to cry tonight it was not for the pain of fresh grief or loss. It was the simple sadness of not being able to be with things you liked. It is an appreciation that they were in the world and that they were special and that they came home with us as mementos of ours and our friends and families’ lives. When we go home to our house to be there will be special things on the road of life waiting to come join us in that new place.