Moving house is always traumatic. This time we’ve attempted to circumvent the usual stress of the organisational aspects of the move, by preparing almost obsessively. Even at a point where we were largely at a low ebb from grumbling illnesses and workloads, we organised our organisation, assigning tickets and tasks, and ticking things off on endless lists. The day, I’m sure, will run as smoothly as it ever could. However, like a neurosis seeking a physiological expression, the trauma has instead manifested itself in a kind of proactive nostalgia.
We conducted our first three house moves, to some extent blind to the possessions we were moving. Into my belongings from university—writings, music, teaching and thesis notes all packed uncritically into folders, files and boxes—were folded with very little consideration everything of mine my parents did not throw away when they moved to Spain (I mention in passing that only Hissing Sid, the draught excluder, survived their cuddly-toy cull.)
At the same time K. and I were gradually mixing together all the things we owned. Again, we paid little heed to how the significance of the combination was different from that of the previously separate fractions: not just duplicates of White Stripes and Pixies albums, but also the scrapbooks we kept as separate histories, the poetry and prose that was fast becoming the property of two people that scarcely existed any more. The two photograph albums of each half of a couple take on a new meaning when the images are interleaved, as if to render their eventual meeting an inevitable consequence of visual narrative.
Now, most of my remaining past—cute plush animals, Commodore Amiga, Lego set and now huge Marshall amp long since discarded—is now written down. To lose my written self would be to lose much of my whole self, the skeleton that keeps the rest together and looking more or less the right shape. And yet, we are both drowning internally from the weight of this stuff, all packed without sense or structure in a dozen boxes. We have moved too often, leaving this serious condition untreated, and the plethora of undistilled, accumulated words must now be selectively bled; we are performing our phlebotomies separately and together as the subject matter warrants.
I write to you now, therefore, with my sense of who I was, and who I ought to be, open and leaking in the operating theatre. When I nod my head like this, it tells you that I can feel every single page I discard, however poor the song lyrics might be, or however unentertaining a story the synopsis might have produced. I don’t suffer each event as keenly as I would the loss of a psychic limb; but perhaps somewhat equivalent to the loss of a psychic. I can only hope that somewhere, among the many tiny amputations of self, there lurks enlightenment.