Emptying the apartment, slowly

Moving to another country can be seen as a terrible ordeal, but I now think that here are many good things that is associated with it.

The first one is that having a definite “end date” to be in Paris kinds of forces us to do all the stuff we are going to do “one day, later”. We lived in Paris for more than 10 years, and there are still so many stuff that we didn’t do. It can be as simple as walking around an area that I haven’t seen before.

The term “time-boxing” is used to allocate in advance the amount of time you will spend on something in order for you to focus and get things done. It is usually used for shorter amount of time, like a few hours, but I think it could be used also for the longer term period, like months and years. Knowing that something has an end forces you to stop thinking that you can postpone indefinitely something and actually do the stuff. In the same way, I realize that we will stay a finite amount of time in Japan, and as such, I want to make the best of it and actively prepare.

The second one is that we have to empty our apartment. For budget and practical purpose, we decided not to ship anything to Japan. It cost way too much (4500 euros for 6m3) and we will have to ship it back at some point anyway. With our airplane tickets, we can have up to 183 of luggage and I think that it will be enough.

Because of that, we have to empty our apartment in the next 4 months. We have to examine all our belongings and decide if they are important enough to us to be put in our luggage or stored it at my mother’s house. Everything else must be given or recycled. It is a great “reset” button in our surroundings and life. It will help us reclaim space, both physical and mental. After doing it for a few weeks, we feel that we live in a larger apartment.

The main lesson for us is that it is easy to underestimate how hard it is to get rid of things. Every time we will buy something, we will have to keep in mind that there will be a day where we will have to get rid of it. We have to factor this “future debt” in the utility value that what we will buy. Getting ride of something is tough, even if it is just getting it downstairs and asking for garbage to pick it up. Getting ride of tons of things is taking time to sort out and time to give or discard.

The idea is to work iteratively: we get ride of what we feel less important, move the remaining stuff in other furniture and get ride of the empty furniture. Then we repeat until only the essential stays.

It feels almost like a cleaning ritual, looking at these old books that I won’t read anymore, I make peace with my past, by accepting that I won’t read them anymore and make space for something new.