November 19, 2005

Please check the red box.

I moved to Oregon 2 1/2 years ago in a whirlwind of activity. As I recall, a mere four days elapsed as I finished college, dragged all my belongings down to the Twin Cities, jammed to Madison for my sister’s graduation ceremony, drove back to the Cities, packed up the Green Dragon and hit the road.

The entire month of May I was totally jonesin’ to get on the road, and I knew that I had to devise some sort of system to make the move happen as soon as humanly possible. Any loss of momentum, any lingering second, and I was sure my body would cast down its miserable roots wherever it stood. I knew this as I was packing my things in Duluth, and even then I knew I needed to pack those boxes so that the absolute minimum of effort would be required to sort stuff out when I reached the Cities.

I color-coded the boxes. I’m not kidding. If a box was marked with blue tape, everything it contained needed to be dragged out to the left coast. These boxes could have been welded shut for all I cared, as there was absolutely no reason for me to dig through them until I reached Hood River. If a box was marked with yellow tape, however, it contained some stuff I wanted to bring, and other stuff I could leave behind. Sometimes this was stuff that I wasn’t sure I would want/need out there, and other times it was stuff that I knew I wanted to bring along, but for the freakin’ life of me couldn’t fit in another box. And man, after living with the Ford Tempo and moving back and forth from college umpteen times, I’m dang efficient at packing.

Finally, there were the red boxes, full of junk that had no business going to Oregon. These would remain in Minnesota until I returned, if indeed I did return. My timeline was ambiguous, and no one (not even myself) knew whether I would be gone for three months, three years or a lifetime.

Ever since then I’ve been living out of boxes. Wine boxes, liquor boxes, apple boxes, you name it, I’ve jammed my stuff into it. In the past couple years I’ve lived at no less than seven different addresses, accumulating and losing junk at every turn, and yet always coming out heavier in the end. I don’t even know what sort of things I have anymore, as none of it has been packed so that it could be conveniently labeled as clothes or kitchen stuff or thermal underwear. Nay, the pragmatist won this round, as everything had to be packed in a manner that absolutely maximized the use of space, which tends to minimize one’s ability to sort items based on what they actually are. Frustrating? I’m surprised I still have all my blood left.

I’m in the process of unpacking all these boxes and repacking them as logically as possible, making a hefty mess in the process. I’m resorting everything I own based on type, grouping like kinds, as it were. It’s the freakin’ database rearchitecture of my personal belongings. What’s more, I’m cracking open those red boxes, and they’re all little time capsules in their own right. It’s a weird experience because in many ways I remember wearing these clothes, listening to this music, backing up my files on these Zip disks… and in other ways it feels like even these thoughts aren’t my own, that I’m rooting around in the junk memories of some other person.

That being said, this guy had some cool stuff! I’ve found hair wax, neat old pieces of drift wood, chopper gloves, a couple of CPUs, and a framed foil picture of a lighthouse that was obviously picked up at a dollar store somewhere in the world. The king of all finds, however, is an old pair of snowboard bindings sans snowboard. All I need now is a bit of snow, a steep hill and two huge blocks of ice. If you mount the snowboard bindings on the ice blocks you’ve just invented, well, I don’t know what you’ve invented, but I’m sure that it would be hella-fun and probably dangerous!

All I need now is a little bottle of patience, tucked away somewhere in an old case of Leinenkugel’s. As predicted, our Mega Kill-Blast Snowstorm of Nought Five, which was so horrible it triggered the pre-emptive digging of mass graves, dropped a suffocating 1/2″ of snow.

Which has since melted.