Earlier this month, I moved myself and the kids into a small one bedroom apartment around the corner from my Mom’s. Earlier this week, Brian arrived with a moving truck full of our “stuff.”  Immediately upon encountering the boxes that contained my belongings, the happiness I’d felt in my new space was replaced with dread and hopelessness. The possibilities that had loomed so beautifully ahead of me seemed to recede.

I texted a friend: How much contemporary despair is really just contamination from proximity to one’s “stuff”?

I tried to be happy. The kids were happy to be reunited with toys, decor and everything they’d been missing that they associated with home. Brian was happy to no longer be paying for storage in Los Angeles. But  I couldn’t shake the feeling that something terrible had happened.

When I’d told a friend we were moving to Washington in pursuit of a better life, she’d referred to it as “pulling a geographical:” a term I later found out was 12-step speak for thinking you’re getting away with something by getting the hell out of dodge. On the one hand, she was wrong. There IS more possibility for my family here and there is more of everything that genuinely makes me happy. On the other hand, she was unfortunately right.

I’d thought that when I’d left all that stuff behind, it was gone forever. But the truth is, I still have to deal with it and mindfully make the choice to let it go – not just run away from it. I still have to overcome my dread of upsetting the kids by sending some of their toys to Goodwill  and I still have to overcome my natural reluctance to dispose of years of books, artwork and journals. And this time I have to do it consciously, not just by getting in a car and driving away from it for someone else (my husband) to deal with.

I really wish I didn’t have to. I really wish there had been a fire and it had all burnt beyond recognition. But then I know I’d also have lost those few precious things that I actually value, and I would have let fate do the work that  is mine alone to do.

So that’s what I have ahead of me and, right now, that is the work that is between me and the life I am dreaming of: a life of simplicity, spirit and contribution. Without too much stuff.

Of course, my husband also has his “stuff” and while it’s vexed me horribly for years that I can’t just get rid of his, I’ll just have to leave that one up to him.