Sunday, February 13, 2005

To possess or not to possess?

Yes...I did spend the weekend reading. Just finished with Tokyo: A Certain Style by Kyoichi Tsuzuki. In the mid-90s, Tsuzuki spent a couple of years putting together a photo book of low end Tokyo homes: students, artists, musicians and people who need a place to crash from time to time. The result: an inside look into the *real* urban Japan...that of the masses who are not professionals and who do not need material possessions to rule their lives.

It reminded me of my college and just-after-college days, when magazines, books, and music were my major possessions. Furniture and kitchen/laundry appliances were not needed; or if owned, were secondhand. My fraternity had dozens of rooms...some singles, and doubles and a handful of larger group rooms (the Penthouse and Cook's Room). Creativity and sweat equity were constants during each semester's shift in rooms: painting, ripping up/replacing carpets, constructing/deconstructing wet-bars, hanging tapestries. Hours and hours were spent fixing up my room to be just *right*.

In my first move to DC after college, my possessions equaled one carload. Two months later, en route to my new home of Boston, my material wealth had evolved to two carloads. In DC, I slept on the mattress removed from a foldout couch. In Boston, I slept on the floor for a few weeks and then on a doubled-over waffle mattress cover. That soon turned into a futon and then a real-life double mattress. By age 25, I came of age upon purchase of a real-life wooden bed frame.

In 2001, my move across the country forced me to rent a 17' truck to transport my *wealth*: living room/dining room/bedroom furniture, pots/pans, books, shelves, artwork, kitchen items, stereo/TVs/DVDs, sporting gear and lots and lots of clothes and shoes. I quickly moved to a flat in the city with enough closet and storage space to easily (and cleanly) store everything. Three point five years later, I have downsized to renting a room in a house, with several of my possessions either on loan to friends (thanks for helping out!), stored in boxes in the garage, or hastily stowed away (shoved) in the closet or under my bed.

The next move will again require me to rethink what I want and what I don't want. My gut tells me: those who have taken in my goods will end up inheriting what they are sheltering. What I have learned is that I can easily get by in life with much less than I thought I needed years ago. As long as I have some space to sprawl out on the floor, room to entertain a handful of friends, and quick access to what is important to me then life is good.

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