The Responsibility of Unpacking (and letting go)

Only recently I found out what responsibility ‘moving out’ has and that I have to ‘let go’ of concepts that was all too natural to me. It is easy to fly continents but that flight is so much more than sitting in a tube 35.000 ft above ground.

That flight was the tip of the iceberg of a long process that came ahead. Of course, I have been moving continents and countries before, well of course… not just everyone does that, but this time is the last time, the final time.

Kind of randomly I came across a blog post by Emme when I generally was going through different blog for interesting reads. In her post, 8 months in…. Amstelveen, the Netherlands, she is writing about how her experience is in living abroad.
What struck me, and that is maybe my similarity with my past moving, is that she has 4 unpacked boxes. In the same breath she’s explaining that the Netherlands is her ‘social’ place, as in a place she works, has her social life and her door she can close at the end of the day.

At the end of the same day, that place doesn’t feel like home, and it looks that this is in part because she ‘always will be a foreigner there’ and because of citizenship.

I don’t have an opinion about her feeling – whether she should or shouldn’t feel at home, she’ll find her way in life, but, her 4 unpacked boxes does resemble my ‘childhood box’ and my ‘feet-on-the-table-whilst-sitting-on-the-couch’.

It was evening, somewhere at one of the places I lived with my parents. In fact, I cannot remember which evening it was, if I already had left home, if I still was living there and planning to move out, I simply don’t know.

What I do remember is sitting on the couch, with my feet stretched on the table watching TV. Then my mom said that ‘no matter what, you always can come home here, sit on the couch with your feet on the table’. and ever since that has been my ‘fail safe’, whenever ‘shit hits the fan’ (imagine the mess) (no! don’t!) (too late isn’t it?) I always could go to that place, no matter where the couch is. Secondly, mom kept kind of every single birthday card I ever have gotten. She kept kind of every toy I have gotten, papers, documents, administration, timelines, drawings from school, and I don’t know what I still had laying around somewhere. She kept that in a rented box as the house didn’t have enough place (after they moved to an apartment from a house!). Her mother threw everything out from her childhood, so, naturally, she did exactly the opposite and I also cannot just let go of things with sentimental value.

These two things were always incentives for me to ‘come back home’ and why I never really took 100% responsibility of moving on, be it alone or with my ex. There always was that ‘something’, that door left open, preventing me to totally let go and build a new space I always could come back to.

I moved to Denmark to study, knowing that wouldn’t be the place to stay. Then I moved to Thailand and there my ex and I could have stayed, could have taken the responsibility to create our lives there. We didn’t do that. We moved to the USA. Also there we could have organized our lives in such a way that it was a ‘forever’, in fact, somehow we did but ultimately for my feelings also not. Our marriage didn’t survive. Yet, I also didn’t take responsibility for my own actions afterwards as in the end, I came back to that couch with my feet on the table.

It was not like ‘getting back to mommy because life was to hard’-kind of attitude though. I was mentally not well and needed, really needed, that place at that time to get myself back together and I am super lucky and grateful that I could go there. Fact is, it was that place at home.

Afterwards, still living at home, I worked my butt off to make life possible with my new wife, flying back and forth, doing my master degree, built us a house, which has become our home.

But, how did this house become home? What is the change between ‘then’ and ‘now’?
The answer is that those 2 incentives to come back are no more any longer. Mom died some years ago, I kind of had to stop working and focus on studies in part because my business expenses were getting too high, and when it became clear I’d move continents again my stepfather has reached an age that he soon needs to move even smaller and with more care, meaning, that childhood box needs to go too.

That’s exactly what I did, I, finally, went in there, threw out everything I couldn’t bring to Malaysia. Either donated it or threw it out. Only some letters and papers and reports from school I kept as those smaller things I could easily take with me. I have broken down all the furniture from my room, which goes to family, and my last nights were sleeping on a mattress on the floor before catching the plane.

Donating what can be donated
Throw out what needed to be thrown out
Bit sad to see the box empty…..

That plane, tube, 35.000 ft above the ground, flew me home. Home to Malaysia. This time I am taking responsibility for it, I don’t have any incentive to go back to the Netherlands, my life is organised here, and with time not only this house will be my home but the country as well. I will need to learn the language, learn where everything is, to know the way (both physically and culturally), where all the shops are, where the places to go to are, how to organize life, having a job after graduation or start something myself.

I already made a good start, I seriously want to continue this path of life as this time there is no way back. And I’m loving it to the fullest! With new energy, new motivation, I’m already living my new future!

Let’s eat!

6 Replies to “The Responsibility of Unpacking (and letting go)”

  1. I’m so glad you found this point in your live, becuse now you will be able to built a new life and place that fits you like a glove. This taking resposability for a chance you can’t reverse has lead you along your youth and along the emotions leaving your ‘old’ live and starting in a new place; of course together with your lovely wife Hadie. I’m thankful that I could have a part in making your home together with Marja as long as you needed it. It feels good that you yourself took care of the things that were collected during the years before we met and until now. It makes it easier to take care of the last things that remain and that you left behind in my care. So in spite of your farewell for always I remember the good times you and I had in the time we had since we met the first time. Thank you for letting me have a part in your live, for as long as it will be.
    Greetings, love and all the succes you deserve, including Hadie.

    1. Awww Evert!
      Thank you for your comment! And yes, of course, a big big thank you to you and Marja too of course! She knows that.
      Like you I also will remember the good times as well and the time I was there with you!
      Thanks again! Daniel

  2. Great post! I really enjoyed reading it and am flattered that you came across my post and it inspired you to write. I hope that one day I can unpack my boxes, in the same way you’ve done yours! Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. You’re very welcome! It was kind of putting a ‘before’ and ‘after’ next to each other and I think that it gave an extra dimension. For me to look back to and maybe for you to look forward to?

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