It’s the same every time.
“Where are you from?”
“Oh, no! Were you affected by the fires?”
“Yes. We lost everything.”
I always feel like a bit of a fraud saying we lost “everything.” We had packed up some stuff the night before – a few changes of clothes, our meds, our important documents, our computers, and the dogs’ food, crates, medications, and blankets.
So, we didn’t lose everything.
In the first few days, we had an unending caravan of Amazon trucks dropping off the very most basic things we’d left behind. Underpants, socks, pens. We were living in my mother’s spare room, so there was a limit to how much we needed to replace. When we moved into a rental house and found ourselves in the position of having to create a household from nothing, there was another round of Amazon deliveries and trips to big box stores.
I’ve come to see that there are four different kinds of buying I’ve been doing, and I really have to evaluate every purchase to see which kind it is before I hit “buy.”
- Absolute necessity
There were things we needed that we had zero of — things like baking pans, cloth napkins (we’re hippies – paper is a no-no), cleaning products, basic spices, a bed, etc. These are easy. If I can’t carry on a quotidian task without it, it’s a necessity.
- Re-creating the old house
Although we’d already identified quite a few things from the old house that we’re not replacing (good-bye, harp), I keep stumbling over “we had it at home, so we should have it here.” I really have to talk myself down from buying things like huge rugs, cute little tables, my famous steamer trunk office. I mean, there’s a very good chance that I will put some of those things back, but I have no idea what the space is even going to look like right now, so I can’t start buying large, furniture-type things for a house that doesn’t exist yet.
- Filling up the rental house
This place is nearly as big as our hold house, which means that there are miles of bare walls, open floors, and empty counters. At our old house, we had to create space for things because every nook and cranny was full. It’s hard to resist the urge to look at the space we’re in and think “this corner could use a little table,” or “I should get a lot more plants.” I have to keep reminding myself that we’re not staying here forever, and when we leave here, we’ll be moving into a space less than half this size.
- Filling up the new house
I’ve already decided on the themes for each of the rooms, which will dictate what kind of stuff I’ll want to get. I’ve been buying smallish things that will go into the rooms -— hourglasses for the Pratchett room, a pair of raven lamps for the Clarke library — but apart from the furniture we need for daily functioning, I’m afraid to buy any large furniture until I know what the new house will look like and so what spaces we’re trying to fill.
Everyone wants to give us things to replace what we’ve had, but that’s not quite right. Then they want to give us things in themes we like, but we’re not quite ready for that. The one thing I have received from my friends that I will always accept, that I will take a zillion of no matter where I’m staying, are books. My friends have really been coming through there, and I know that once we get into our new house, I’ll already have my friends there with me.