It’s been just over a year since I landed in Edinburgh with two bags of clothes and sundries, followed by two cats and five boxes of stuff.
If home is actually where the heart is, the cats were the biggest factor in making even Chateau Mildew feel like home instantly, and I’ll write more about the process of bringing them over soon.
But though I only brought marginally more stuff with me with this move compared to my time in Mexico, this is the first international move I’ve considered indefinite, getting rid of rather than storing the rest of my belongings. So what I brought is what defines my comforts of home.
The stuff was mostly clothes and shoes, some towels and bedding, and, most importantly, arts and crafts I’ve picked up in my travels. I used a service called Send My Bag, which is basically a user-friendly way to ship luggage and boxes via a courier but using their wrap-around service – it was DHL that actually picked up, shipped, and delivered my boxes. For the amount I was bringing over — i.e. not an entire household, but more than I could bring with me on the plane — the Send My Bag service was easy, had great customer service, and wasn’t nearly as expensive as I imagined, or as using a shipping company would have been.
I’d unframed what could be unframed for their travels, and now that I’m settled into my first unfurnished flat in Edinburgh, I’ve finally unpacked, reframed, and displayed the artworks and knick knacks that bring me joy and remind me of various stages in my life.
I brought the large canvas I was given as part of my contract completion bonus with the Vancouver Olympics, a view of the now-convention centre, then-International Broadcast Centre, by an acclaimed New Westminster artist. It was sent in the same special art box as the large abstract painting I created during a press day organized by my friend Sharon for an art-related television show, which I’m absurdly proud of even though it’s just colourful squiggles on a white board.
I carefully packed two mirrors from my time living in Mexico City – one of which made it to Edmonton then Vancouver then Scotland unscathed, the other which has now given up its rectangular shape and opted for more of a parallelogram.
I brought assorted prints from Ecuador, New Orleans, Key West, a Vancouver 2010 poster. There’s a photograph given to me in my first professional job working for the Alberta Playwrights Network, geese flying next to a boat they’d imprinted on, a thanks from the winner of our playwiting competition for prodding the provincial government to finally give him his prize money. (The prodding didn’t actually help, but he appreciated the effort.)
And then there’s the assorted objects and special books I’ve collected that remind me of a time in my life, especially my two years living in Mexico City or my time in each Olympic destination since Vancouver — London, Sochi, Rio, Korea — or that bring fond memories of a trip or a person.
Can I claim the robot that inspired my tattoo is art? Why not. It’s on my desk, along with a picture of my brother and then-baby nephew, alone on display from the shoeboxes of photos I unalbumed to bring with me.
Going through my belongings to narrow them down to two suitcases, two cats, and five boxes wasn’t as difficult as I thought it might be. I’ve been Marie Kondoing since before Marie Kondo was a thing, and stuff is only stuff … unless it’s not, unless it forms part of my memories, my heart, my home.