About 13 months ago, my husband and I sold our condo and basically everything we owned and moved to San Francisco. I mean this literally – we packed up our Nissan Versa hatchback with a couple suitcases of clothes, our laptops, a few other possessions and headed west. The car wasn’t even full.
We did this for two reasons. One, our new SF apartment was less than half the size of our old Austin condo. There simply wasn’t going to be room for most of our stuff. Our furniture was too big to fit in the new place and there was way too much of it. Two, we didn’t relish the prospect of hiring movers or driving a U-Haul van halfway across the country. We did a few calculations and decided it would actually be cheaper to buy new things when we got to SF. So we sold or gave away all of it. My parents kept a few boxes of books and a couple pieces of furniture we couldn’t bear to part with. And when we were down to a pile that would fit in the car, we packed it up and set off.
It’s been a surprisingly easy adjustment.
Occasionally, people ask me if I miss anything from our old place. These aren’t questions about whether I miss Austin or our friends there, because of course I miss them. No, these questions are about the things we left behind.
I sometimes miss my clothes and my closet. We had a spectacular master closet – it was huge. Everything was organized by color. There was a whole wall of shoes, lined up in pretty rows from the floor to the ceiling. There was even a row comprised entirely of purple, lavender and blue pumps. I’d collected these shoes over many years – I even had a pair of Adidas Gazelles from 1997. There was a cabinet of sweaters and a shelf full of sundresses. I don’t really need either of those these days. When we moved, I gave all my shoes and clothes away. My sister and some friends took most of them, and the rest I donated. I like to imagine people all over Austin wearing little pieces of me. Sometimes I see pictures my friends post to Facebook and someone’s wearing a shirt or a necklace I used to wear. That makes me smile.
I miss our books. I think the biggest sacrifice in this whole endeavor was getting rid of so many books. Hayes and I had hundreds of books. We kept a box full, and left a few more with my parents. But the rest we sold at Half Price Books or donated to Goodwill. I miss those books. Yes, I read books on my iPad or iPhone, but I still prefer a physical, paper book. I’ve always loved books. As a child, I spent hours roaming the stacks in the library where my mom worked. I love the way books smell and the sound a book makes when you crack it open after it’s been on the shelf for a while. So this has been the hardest part – not having all these beautiful books around anymore. Even if I did judge them by their covers and organize them by color.
But really, I don’t miss much else. This new apartment and our new simpler environment is just so easy. It’s much faster to clean now. I can find anything in a few seconds, because there are really only two places something could be. I don’t worry about someone breaking in while I’m traveling, because what are they going to steal? Even if every dish in the house is dirty, I can wash them all in about 10 minutes.
It’s nice to think that I’m surrounded by only two kinds of things – those I really need and those I really love. My physical life has been distilled to its most important elements. And practically, I love knowing that next time we move, it’ll only take a few hours to pack, instead of a few weeks.
At the end of conversations about the move, everyone always asks, Would you do it again? A year later, my answer is still an immediate, unqualified yes.