I suppose most of us have at one point or another moved from one residence to another. However, at least for me, such things have tended to happen quickly, over a day or two. You rent a van, you get all your stuff over, you say goodbye to your old place briefly, fleetingly, for a moment you see it empty and clean, reminding you of how you first found it. Yet it's not the same place anymore, for it has lost its novelty and is now far more familiar.
For the first time, I am moving slowly. Over many days, several weeks. I see my apartment slowly empty of everything that made it specific to me, everything that I brought in over the months I lived here. The reason for this is that I am moving to another country, having to fly there, and thus cannot just rent a van and get it over with. I give some things away, discard others, give some to people to keep for me until an indefinite later. In short, I take apart everything that links me to this place, deconstruct my personal space.
Today I went home and was shocked as I had forgotten I took the kitchen table away today. In two days I will be out of this place and therefore it is now almost empty. The first thing to go was the bed, most of my chairs, the desk and bookshelves and books and CDs. I could still work on the kitchen table and slept on a mattress on the floor. My sound system also went that day, as well as the shelf that kept my music and movies. Several of the lamps went as well, as did all my tools. My brother and a friend helped me throw away my guest bed. The big red carpet was loaded into the back of a van and taken to my brother's place.
In the past few days, things have been slowly disappearing as I pack them up and find them a place. For each item, I need to consider if I can take it with me or give it to someone or have it stored. I go through all my things, my personal pile of stuff, the things that have meaning and memories, the things that are necessary for survival, the junk I have accumulated over the years. I reduce my kitchen to three knives, some cutlery, a frying pan and a cooking pot. Eventually everything melts away, leaving me with more and more empty space. I watch the apartment slowly become more and more generic. In a week there will be no trace of me left here.
Today, the kitchen table went, as did the mirror on the wall and the lamps, save one. Two days ago, all my plants, including the carnivorous ones, most of my clothes. The Dali poster from the wall. Pillows, blankets. Almost all of my kitchen equipment. A box of random junk with emotional value.
I watch the personality of this space fade away in slow motion. I think of rebuilding my life in a new place, thousands of kilometers away, starting next week. I think of the next person who will live here, and the huge crawling plant outside the window that casts beautiful shadows with leaf patterns on the walls at sunset. I wonder if they will enjoy it as much as I did.
In a week, there will be no trace of me left here. In a week, some distant and foreign place will slowly start becoming home.