On January 10, 2008, or thereabouts, all of our belongings will be joining us here in Sacramento. Unbelievable! We’ve found a moving solution that will, hopefully, work out; and we’ll be packing up our wedding gifts and repacking all the other boxes in the attic after Christmas, in preparation for the move.
Among the things that will be arriving in a few short weeks are my books—the many, many boxes of them that have remained sealed since I left New York. The kitchen things I didn’t throw away or sell will arrive as well; I have very little recollection of what I actually saved. Will my blue bowl be in one of the boxes, or did I leave it by the curb? Did I keep or pitch my soup ladle? Blankets; lamps; my alarm clock—I know they’re packed away, somewhere, among many other things I can’t even remember owning.
It will be strange discovering all of these things again. They’re relics from a different life—my New York life, my single life. I’ve gone through two hefty rounds of belongings since then, in Spain (all, for the most part, thrown or sold or given away now), and now in California (just last week I purchased, again, the Ikea desk lamp I had on my desk in Barcelona). Looking around our apartment, I see that everything—from the books to the plates to the hangers in the closet—is new. We’ve acquired an apartment’s worth of furniture in the past two weeks. Every single book on our bookshelf has been purchased since we’ve moved to California (a surprising number, given that we’ve lived here only since July). All of the things in the kitchen have been purchased here, or smuggled back in suitcases after trips home for the shower and wedding. Not one thing in this apartment has been with us for a significant length of time—we’re literally building our life together, our nest, twig by twig.
That’s strange, to be sure, but in this moment I realize it’s also not entirely true. There, in the cupboard in the dining room, is the Scrabble board, the letter-tiles in a small LeSport Sac pouch. Finally, a thread linking the past to the present, linking New York to Barcelona to Sacramento. It’s been with us in all of these places, a true relic compared to the shiny newness of everything else.
Anyway. Perhaps all this newness is one reason why Sacramento has felt so unfamiliar all these months, why I’ve felt so ungrounded here, as though there is simply one thin layer of existence that is as easily dispersed as sand. Yes, the history here—what there is of it—is a far cry from the heavy roots anchoring Barcelona and even New York, giving them character and substance. But my personal history is lacking here, too. There are no pictures, no favorite mugs, no familiar rows of books alphabetized by author on shelf after shelf. There are no worn blankets, no drawers of odds and ends, no box of recipes, no unruly plants with crinkled leaves scattered on the floor around them. There isn’t even a stack of New Yorkers piled by the couch, pages dog-eared, covers wrinkled. Until last week, when we moved and bought all our furniture, we could have packed up and been gone at a moment’s notice. Just as no grand architecture or defining culture tie Sacramento to what I will perhaps always consider “real” life, no history, no family, and no belongings tie us here.
This is changing quickly, and will continue to change, especially on January 10. Our life’s things will finally settle into California as we have, from our books to our measuring spoons to our souvenirs from our travels. When our Venetian masks are hanging on the wall—when my familiar dishes are in the cabinet—when I can make a soup from my favorite cookbook—my view of Sacramento may, quite possibly, change as well. It already feels more like home, thanks to our move downtown and this new apartment. Now it’s high time to unpack.