I resigned from my job to allow almost 3 weeks to prepare to leave the country for an extended period of time.
Seemed like plenty of time to purge and selectively store my belongings, to buy my gear, to take care of the practical things such as arranging my accounts and selling my car, to spend time with my friends and family, and, most importantly, to relax and enjoy the anticipation before hopping on that plane.
I must say that the last week has not been remotely relaxing and only periodically sprinkled with joy. Yes, the happy hours with good friends have been enjoyable. But let me say that purging and actually moving out of my condo has been perhaps one of the most stressful periods of my life.
You may be wondering if I’m one of those “hoarders” on that TV show.
I don’t watch TV, but I do hear about these things. No, I really am not. I only have 930 square feet of space, and I did not use even half of all the storage space. I actually consider myself to be somewhat of a minimalist, and I do not like “things” creating clutter. Well, I learned that I am a terrible minimalist.
I spent four solid days attempting to sort through my belongings, knowing that I planned to get rid of most of them, keeping only a few essentials and items that truly hold sentimental value. I feel that I have certainly succeeding in paring down. I rented a 5’x5’ storage unit, and it’s only half full. But it was painful to get to that point.
Countless trips to Goodwill and a few illegal dumping trips later, I cannot even estimate the value of the things that I purged. Don’t get me wrong; I am thrilled to be free of all of those things. But it does make me wonder what else that money could have been spent on. And not just money I spent, but the money others spent on gifts. Not that I don’t appreciate it, but over the years I’ve placed less and less value on “things.” No, I am not a Buddhist (although it is something I’d like to learn more about). And I do love my shoes… and my fabulous leather jacket from Argentina. But in general, the “things” I adore are limited in number. I prefer to spend my money on experiences.
So what have I learned from this?
I know I will never have as much stuff again. In fact, I hope to never have more belongings than I currently have in my storage unit and in my backpack ever again. (Okay, maybe I will need some furniture when I stop traveling.)
And if I somehow backslide on that promise to myself and have to move again, I will pay to have a dumpster brought to my house. I will fill it, burn everything inside, and be done with it in an afternoon.
Now that the weight has been lifted, the sense of euphoria I experienced the day I booked my flight to Ecuador is starting to come back. For those of you who saw me in September and the early part of October, you probably remember the constant smile on my face and the excitement and anticipation in my voice. You would not have seen that this past week. It is stressful to make all of the arrangements to leave the country for a long period of time.
But I remember why I’m going through all of this, and I know it will be worth it. Luckily, I have friends who put things into perspective for me. So yes, I will now stop complaining about how hard it is and remember how freaking awesome it is that in less than one week I will be in Ecuador learning Spanish and doing whatever I feel like doing.