Almost as soon as we made the decision to pursue this lifestyle, we started purging our belongings. We knew space and weight would be limitations in the camper, and we knew we wanted to store only what we would need to resume a more traditional life.
At first, I really struggled with our less-is-more outlook, as I have always been more of a be-prepared-for-anything. You never know when I might need that bill from 3 addresses ago, or when we might finally use that fine china I inherited from my granny, or when I might miraculously lose the weight I wanted to lose before getting pregnant. I am not a hoarder, but I am very sentimental, and that made things hard. However, the process got so much easier as it became more of a reality, and I know a lot of those first boxes we packed in the storage unit will be tossed immediately when we put roots down again.
In some ways, Will was at an advantage. He moved in with me several years after I had settled in. While I did some purging to make room for him, I mostly shuffled things around. And then he built shelves wherever we possibly could and removed my need to actually part with anything. He got rid of a lot of stuff as he gradually moved in, so when it came time to pare things down now, he already had a decent handle on his things.
I struggled most with my closet. As a new mom, I have grappled with my identity on many fronts, including on the style of clothes I want to wear. Clothes I loved pre-pregnancy no longer fit the way they used to or they no longer fit my lifestyle, but they had a hold on me because they were smaller sizes and represented a professional style I enjoyed wearing, even though I left the corporate world several years ago. There is so much power in accepting where you are and giving yourself grace and time to get where you want to be.
I literally spent a day trying on every single item in my closet. If it did not fit at that moment, it did not stay. If it fit and I was not sure I liked it, it did not stay. This process was incredibly liberating. When I finished, I was able to identify things I actually needed – you can have a lot of things in your closet, but if none of them fit, they are doing absolutely no good. I was also able to open the closet the next morning and not feel the burden of having to sift through a closet reminding me that I am not the size I used or want to be. I could confidently pull out any item in there and know it would fit. Sure, I still hope to lose weight, but I can guarantee that when I need a smaller size, I am not going to be wearing the business casual outfits I wore to the office 5 years ago.
I completed this initial purge before we purchased Cate, so I was still living in a fantasy world where we might find a camper with all the closet space. We did not. I can confirm that 12-inches of closet space is very small. The reality of a small living space required an additional round (or several) of purging and will continue to require upkeep, simply for sanity. I was forced to really scrutinize every piece of clothing and think about the life we are embarking on. Considering I have always had an issue with overpacking, this has been a challenge. The day we brought our clothes to the camper, Will and I were each sorting and organizing our respective closets, and we both watched my pile of socks grow and grow. I do not recall what the tipping point was, but Will finally said, “you know you can’t take all of those with us.” In my haste to gather things at the house, I can honestly say I had no idea I had brought 17 pairs of socks (I think I got it down to 10 – you still have to be a little prepared!).
We have both made sacrifices on what we brought and what we donated, tossed, or stored. I know we both made hard choices regarding our hobbies. Will only brought a few fishing rods, and I only brought my sewing machine and a few accessories (this means I get to buy fabric along the way, so I think I made out okay). I have also decided that I will read primarily e-books for the next year. I brought a couple of paperbacks that I borrowed from people that I will read and return, but in terms of new reading material, I will only be reading electronically. When I packed up my office, I had 2 stacks of books in my to-be-read pile that I had hoped to make a dent in before we left. Of course, I did not get to any of them (the pile has been growing for at least a year and I somehow thought I might get through a few in less than a month…LOL). I did, however, take pictures of the stacks and got rid of the books entirely. Now I know what I want to read, and they are not taking up space in the storage unit. Trust me, we already have more books in there than I would like to admit.
Packing for Little Bird posed its own challenges, and I will dive deeper into those in the near future.
We are officially over 1 week in and we are still trying to find the perfect place for some things. The belongings we decided to store ended up fitting perfectly into the storage unit, and I am confident everything will find its place here as well. The process getting to this point was not an easy one, but it is incredibly calming to look around and know that your home includes all of what you need, some of what you want, and nothing more.