There is something about the act of packing I find peaceful. Perhaps it’s because I’m accustomed to travelling, and packing is a little ritual that allows you to make peace with the fact that your surroundings will soon change. Or maybe it’s because packing is such a finite, predictable act. On a journey, you know more or less what needs to go with you (all those extra clothes you won’t wear will just allow for choice). It’s then a matter of making things fit into a bag.
But packing up and moving house is quite another matter. I’ve done this more times in my life than I’d care to count, including a couple of big moves from one side of the earth to another, from one hemisphere to another; moving house is just another ritual. Yet while packing doesn’t ruffle my feathers, unpacking is something I find immensely uncomfortable — there’s something disturbing about having to find a “permanent” place where things should belong. If I don’t consider the space I occupy in this life permanent, then how can I negotiate a home for things?
Two weeks after having moved into this new neighbourhood, my study/studio still resembles contemporary art gone wrong. Being one who dabbles in as many things as I can get my hands on, my art/craft equipment is varied, and my raw materials outweigh even my clothes, coming a close second to the number of books I own.
Several years ago, a friend asked, “Why not just throw everything away, and start afresh?” when she learned I’d shipped some of my things from Australia. I had an answer for her then, but I think I have a better answer now. When you’re a perpetual nomad, it’s not the where you put up your tent that matters, because you know anywhere you set foot can be home. Home could be almost anywhere provided I could bring tiny slices of my past and things I can build upon for a possible, immediate future — so I have physical reminders of who I am, who I have been, and some idea of how to tackle the road just ahead.
What seems to be an insurmountable hurdle is the time and energy it takes to make my physical work space an environment where I can be inspired in. So, for the next little while, there may be more than the usual amount of radio silence from me while I figure out what form this space should take.