imaginary outfit: less and more

Unpacking is a chore I both love and loathe. Love, because making order is one of my favorite things. Loathe, because inevitably I find myself staring, exhausted and overwhelmed, at a motley assortment of odds and ends — a card I meant to send to my grandma, an old lanyard with a recess whistle from my year teaching second grade, two old key rings, a container of shoe polish – and I realize I have come to the absolute end of my ability to decide anything and that I truly have no idea where this stuff should go.

Even though we lived in a very small space, there are many things to sort and stash. But having a little space to spread out makes all the difference. Being in a (temporary) house with rooms (plural!), stairs, a washing machine, and more than one chair makes me realize that all this stuff is really our lovingly assembled and carted around nucleus for the home we hope to grow, a someday house where all the sedimentary stuff of our life can accumulate, peacefully settling into drawers and closets and attic corners, with squashy sofas and overfilled bookshelves and a basketball hoop.

Less can be plenty, but sometimes more is more. Pearls work that way. Each layer of nacre adds depth and luster. Pearls are a suggested gift for twelfth anniversaries; ours is this weekend, and I like to think that our life together is on its way to becoming a pearl. We are building as we go, accumulating layers that hopefully reflect the light around us and add up to something rare and beautiful. I feel lucky that we've managed to keep so many wonderful things, and that we have so much worth holding on to.

And in the meantime, there's the unpacking. The card will get a stamp and an address, the whistle that summons memories of 36 shining faces will be stashed in my desk drawer, the key rings will be needed now that there are cars to manage, and the shoe polish — well, I'll find a place for it somewhere, because we'll need to smooth out the scuffs.


Early October is the best, weather-wise: you can wear a sweater and jeans, but still have bare ankles. I'm savoring every sock-free day, because they won't last much longer. While this particular outfit isn't right for unpacking (that would be more along these lines), a nubby sweater, cropped jeans and clogs are perfect for a Saturday run to the apple stand with your best fella for a hot cider toast to anniversaries and neat stacks of empty cardboard.