Expat Life: A Distinct Lack of Stuff

While writing about the French sales yesterday, it occurred to me that we – Cal and I – have a lot less stuff than the average American couple in their late 30s who share a home. Part of this is simply having a lack of desire (and funds) to acquire a lot of stuff; but, part of it is living with the feeling that we could go anywhere, and with that feeling comes a way of thinking that lends itself to wanting to be tied down by less stuff.

Before I moved to Rome in 2002, I had a lot of stuff. Pavlov Memento and I had a lovely apartment that I had decorated beautifully – with stuff. We got rid of mountains of stuff, and what remained we put in storage.

That stuff is still there. At some point, probably this year, I’m going to have to fly home and get rid of it. Sell it off, and probably end up with a box or two that I’ll FedEx back here. At the time, all that stuff was the bare minimum of my life. But now, five years and two countries later, it’s just stuff. I miss my candelabra, and a photo book about Sam Shepard and Jessica Lange that I stole from the Copper Union library my senior year in college. I’d like to give Pavlov’s travel bar set to Bart, who’d appreciate it more. Pretty much everything else can go.

Now, we’re not living in an empty apartment. And since we started living together, I’ve supplemented or replaced some of Cal’s crappier bachelor housewares. But the stuff we really couldn’t live without? I could fit it all into two suitcases, easily.

One day, I’d like a permanent place. I can’t imagine when that day would be, or where it will be, but I trust that one day I’ll see a place I love, and I’ll make it mine. But even then, I don’t think I’d fill it with a lot of stuff. My thinking has changed, and it feels good to live with a minimum with stuff.


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