My grandmother passed away last December. Though we lived most years on different continents, she was the most present grandmother during my childhood- especially before we moved to Africa. She was the one to pick me up from school when I was sick, she came to every performance (including backyard musical productions), and she loved to take me shopping.
She was a very sentimental lady who saved everything that I made her, collected anything that might one day be valuable, and made sure that her home was furnished with the finest things.
A couple of weeks ago, my parents flew to her home in Florida to clean out the house and drive the things of sentimental value back to Oregon in a U-Haul. She had left me some antique furniture and a few other things that were special to her, and that I’m sure she hoped would be special to me one day, too.
As I added some of her furniture to my home and started to pull things out of boxes, I had an uneasy, anxious feeling that I couldn’t shake. What was it about this that was making me feel so restless? As I began to process through it, I realized that it was the permanence of it that was bothering me.
For the first time in my life, I have stuff in my house that I can’t just get rid of.
Up until this point, all of our furniture, and pretty much everything other than what could comfortably fit into a few suitcases, are all things that I don’t have any personal attachment to. A better way to say it – I could sell everything in my house tomorrow, move across the world, and not be sad about leaving the “stuff.”
Not having sentimental things gives me a sense of freedom. We could pick up and move if we wanted to and could fit everything sentimental in a few 50lb bags. I like that.
But, now I have these large pieces of furniture that are genuinely special to me, that don’t fit in a suitcase, and that I hope to pass down to my own girls one day. That makes my TCK-self incredibly uneasy. It ties me down and goes against my adventurous, minimalist, flexible, pick-up-and-go nature.
But, I am learning to settle. I am learning to be content rooting myself for a while. Learning to invest in friendships and to plant trees – both of which need time settled in one place to see grow. And, I’m learning to appreciate a house that now contains pieces of my history and furniture that still smells a bit like my grandmother.
I am learning to value the sentimental- even when it doesn’t fit in my suitcase.