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Unpacking the packed

The seven Voovit! boxes that arrived from London more than two weeks ago have been sitting quietly in one corner of the living room. I wasn't anxious to unpack them because I was waiting for the new Ikea bookcases to be installed.

Today, I started to unpack.

First, the CD's. Initially I had selected the best CD's to bring here. Then I decided to pack all my CD's because I had decided to pack my stereo system.

I brought only two shelves of sheet music but all of my cookbooks. I left a lot of clothes behind.

Opening these boxes reminded me of the short time I had to decide and pack everything. My friend Peter had come over to give me moral support and show me how to pack.

For someone who has travelled and moved around many times, I should know how to pack. Perhaps it was a reluctance to leave that made me ill-equipped to pack. Peter had asked me if I had any bubble wrap or cushioning material. Our conversation went like this:

"Will this do?" I brought out enough bubble wrap to cushion the power amplifer and tuner/CD player.

"Yes! That's just what we need," said Peter.

A few minutes later, he asked me if I had any more - to wrap the speakers.

"No more. How about pillows and socks?" I asked.

Peter went to the shops and brought back newspapers. He crunched up each sheet and threw them into the box. After awhile, his hands turned black from the ink.

"Did you know that only the Evening Standard leaves you with clean hands if you do this?" he asked. "All other papers, especially the tabloids, use cheaper material."

He took the speaker cables, folded and rolled them in a special way, like a professional.

I should know how to do this. I must have moved hundreds more times than he has. Why do I feel so helpless at this moment? Why didn't I get the necessary wrapping material? I wanted him to stay and help me pack the remaining four boxes, but he had to go.

These thoughts flooded back as I unpacked each box. Holding the familiar CD's and books in my hands gave me a warm feeling. As much as I wanted to declutter, I was glad I didn't let go of everything. It was nice to see the familiar titles.

Although I have moved many times, I have never packed everything myself. I have always relied on my mother, my friends, or professional movers to do the packing and the rescuing. Packing is an emotionally distressing activity for people who hang onto the past.

In contrast, unpacking is much more enjoyable because good memories always come flooding back.

14 March 2004 Sunday

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Anne Ku at Ilp in May 2001
Anne Ku

writes about her travels, conversations, thoughts, events, music, and anything else that is interesting enough to fill a web page.
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