Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lamenting the Absence of "Stuff":

All the dust has settled. We are here and its quiet. We are moving through our days as we would anywhere else. Stefan goes off to work and I stay behind, watching him go, wishing he could stay because truthfully, now that the move is over and we are all settled in, I'm a little... bored. Hard to imagine that a mother of two small babies could ever be bored, but I think its one of my dysfunctions that I am not truly engaged unless there's some sort of major crisis going on.

I think if we knew where were we off to next, I wouldn't be bored because I would be able to obsess over that place and how to get there and what to bring and what things I could do to make that place home. I have been thinking a lot about the nesting process lately, probably because I can't really nest under our current circumstances and in the absence of being able to, I've realized just how much I need to.

My friend (and fellow blogger and trailing spouse) recently made a joke about how much she fears the presence of "government-issued furniture" in her home. For some reason, it took reading about her fears for me to fully realize my own. All these years, I have lovingly collected what I consider to be beautiful things for our home- furniture, vases, pot and pans, enamel dutch ovens, paintings, sculptures, photographs, rugs. And now, they all sit somewhere in rural Virginia in a storage unit. I feel like the rest of my family is locked up, out of reach, all alone, collecting dust.

It probably seems totally shallow (especially since I was inspired to write this post because of today's "Home and Garden" section in the NYT, which features about a hundred things I really, really must have), but it's not just about the stuff. Its about my identity and I really do believe that our homes are (or certainly "can be") an expression of who we are and how we view the world. (Is it at all ironic that as I write about how important my "stuff" is, there's an ad on TV for an upcoming episode of "Hoarding: Buried Alive"?).

What's the point of this post? I guess the point is, that every time I identify something exciting and wonderful (i.e. liberation from "stuff"), it's met with a new fear (i.e. liberation from "stuff"). While my husband is realizing his own dreams and identity, I am really struggling (hard) to find my own. It's like I have been stripped down to the barest, most basic version of myself. So while I have dealt with the separation from all my friends and family (reasonably well, if I do say so myself), I am still dealing with not being able to nest and make a home for myself, my children, my husband and my dogs and I am little scared... well, a lot scared... that I'm going to have to wait a really long time before I am able to do it again.


  1. Hi Devon! My husband is starting A-100 in June and I am feeling the same way. I just downloaded MinnesotaGal's eBook about making your state department issued house a home. I haven't looked at it too much, but it's kind of nice to know that we're all in the same boat and lots of folks before us have done a great job with mediocre furnishings!


  2. I COMPLETELY understand. We're in an Oakwoody offshoot right now, with its drinking glasses all the same and its issued plates and bowls and I know it sounds whiny and mean, but I miss my crazy, pretty, colorful plates and my different-colored-glasses! It's sort of... depressing... to cook with and eat upon this stuff that isn't mine and isn't...cute.

  3. It's so true. I have a collection of random crap that I can't bear to get rid of (trinkets, souvenirs broken in successive moves, a bowl that my favorite pet used until she died). I know it sounds silly, but having those little things makes your government housing home... and between packout at Post A and HHE arriving at Post B, it's hard to find your bearings.

  4. It's Friday, time for the weekly State Department Blog RoundUp - and you're on it!

    Here is the link:

    (If I quoted your text or used your photo(s) and you would rather I had not, please let me know. Please also be sure to check the link(s) that I put up to you, in order to verify that they work properly. If you would rather that I had not referenced you, and/or do not want me to reference you in the future, please also contact me at stateroundup2.0 {at}


  5. I never feel like our house at post is my home until our HHE shows up and all our stuff is all over the house. All that junk is really the history of our lives and I treasure it, but at the same time there is that time where you are living out the welcome kit and what ever you had in suitcase. The house is pretty empty and very easy to clean. I start thinking do we really need all that stuff? Why do we have so much stuff? Then the boxes show up and it is like Christmas opening each one, except Christmas was never such hard work.

  6. Just wanted to let you know that I linked to you today...

    Hope you're settling in well!

  7. you must be talking about the ICFF article in the NYT? Beautiful stuff indeed. We are both new to this. We'll get better with every move. Next time we will NOT put art into storage. I miss it all. I luckily have a smidgen of my pretty stuff since we uhauled from Detroit, but not nearly enough. looking forward to saturday!

  8. Just wanted to let you know I thought of your advice to whisk using my wrist and not my arm as I was whipping cream last night.

    Hope all is going well for you and your crew in the retirement facility there at Oakwood. Blogging silence...all ok?