Let’s talk shit. And not in the sense of insult-tossing, genitalia-measuring, gay-panic testosterone monkeys. No, shit as in stuff, possessions, trinkets, chotchkes, memorabilia, crap.
Like most Americans, I have way too much of it. Some of it is stuff I use daily–the two bicycles for example–and some of it–numerous books, toys, cds, sentimental trinkets–I have not touched in years. The idea that I was responsible for all this stuff gave me a sense of claustrophobia, that if I ever moved, I would somehow have to cart all these little, trivial items to another place, to again set them up in some forgotten corner to be occasionally dusted.
A bit early to be a museum curator of my own life. And all those key chains, books, what-have-you, were symbolic; ways to touch off a memory than anything else. They were less useful possessions than abstractions.
So I did what any semi-rational individual prone to over-reacting and being overly self-critical would do: I made my bicycle the limiting factor. With two saddle bags and two backpacks, anything that I could be packed onto my bicycle, I could take with me. Anything that did not fit on the bicycle, well, that stayed.
Essentially I moved to New York City with: enough clothes for two weeks, sheets, two bicycle locks, one paperback, one notebook, one laptop, a cellphone, two cameras (big and little), and some assorted toiletries.
In doing so, this:
Yes, yes. Those are all my NYC possessions. To be fair and honest, I am not going the monk route. I have no plans to join a cult, a monastery, or an Amish community. I will not burn all of my money and take on a new name anytime soon. This I will only do if I become famous and star in a tippling set of romantic comedies. I still have stuff at my house, thanks to my parents. I am living in places with well-stocked kitchens, although I contend I could do most of my cooking with only a few items. It is summer, so the need for winter coats, blankets, etc. is not necessary.
The basic point is this: I wanted a clean slate. I wanted mobility. I wanted to not be overwhelmed or feel overly responsible for what I owned. I wanted each item I was responsible for to be something I needed on a relatively day-to-day basis. Having less stuff, less books, no T.V., pushes me out of my house. If I want to watch a soccer game, I have to go somewhere public. If I want to read a book, I have to go to the library. I cannot just hang about and use what I own as insulation from other people and the rest of the world.
More than anything, I wanted my daily life to revolve around people, experiences, not stuff. So I did the only (il)logical thing and packed up my bicycle.