Hello friends. We all go through changes in life that force us to create our “New Usuals.” Today please meet Coco, who will take us through her adventures to a different kind of New Usual, moving to a new country.
The Decision & Prep
Let’s take a cue from The Sound of Music and start from the very, well, maybe not quite the very beginning, although it is a very good place to start, but not quite necessary. Since I’m telling you about my transition to living in London, it’s probably easier if I take a cue instead of Kylie Minogue to step back in time, a mere two years, in this case. I had the pleasure of chatting with the one and only Helen Fielding, creator and wonderful, colorful writer of the beloved Bridget Jones. We chatted like old friends during a Vogue hosted discussion on the ill-received, third book in the Bridget Jones’ Diary series. My passion for Bridget renewed, and inspired, I started to think it was time for a trip to London.
Life being a little uncertain at the time, I didn’t make it to London until last November for a holiday, at which time I decided to dust off my childhood dream, inspired by my love of Brit Pop, including George Michael, and find out what the job market would be like for me. The reception at my meetings were warm, but ultimately did not manifest.
Flash forward to top job recruiters encouraging me to move to London to show I was serious. I set a deadline to move at the end of April, giving me almost five months to do all my research, keep reaching out to people, sell my car, get all the papers in order for my beloved canine kid and rent my apartment in Brooklyn. There was also the matter of renewing my Irish passport, which turned out to be the easiest part of the process. Erin Go Braugh!
As a writer, my apartment was like living in a small library. Forget the bookcases – more than half of my kitchen cabinets were filled with books of every genre, primarily romance and thrillers. The packing and organizing started in the kitchen, one shelf at a time, separating beloved books I had for years into giveaways, donations and storage. Fear not, Bridget Jones’ Diary and my special edition of Pride & Prejudice made it to storage. For matters of practicality, two suitcases were all that I was able to bring on the plane, aside from one personal item. No carry-on baggage would be allowed due to the added responsibility of carrying my canine kid, Elle, a five-year old French bulldog.
Look around you, what do you really need? Be honest, do your possessions bring you comfort? What about that teddy bear you kept and took to college and now outlasts most of your boyfriends? Okay, you’re being too soft, even though you thought you were being brutal. I have also been a professional music programmer for websites, including Head of Music Video Programing for Yahoo! Music, which means, aside from the CDS I amassed since high school, people sent me thousands of CDS to listen to for work purposes. A few years ago, I removed the majority of the CDs from their cases, storing them in massive black CD binders, minus those that were signed and/or had special packaging.
It was time to be brutal with my CD collection. I posted on Facebook to see if anyone wanted it. The price? Free. Why? I thought about the weight, the storage and the final decision came back to technology. My current MacBook Air doesn’t have a slot for CDs and my car got sold, so what, in the five to ten years that I live in England, would I play them on when I return to America? What would I even be playing on them now, as the faded glowing light of my old Mac continues to glow less bright every day? One of my best friends, Jeff, was appalled and came to save the CDS. He vowed he would find great homes for the music and watch over it, sure one day my mind will change. With all of the streaming music services, is it really necessary? The economy of space is not lost on me and that includes my smartphone.
There’s nothing like looking at possessions you have acquired over a lifetime and seeing them with the laser focus of can I sell this, should I move it across an ocean, and will I still want it in a decade. If the answer is no, then get rid of it- donate it, resell it and feel your space free up, it will lighten your load in life. The resale app, Poshmark, came in very handy, even to give new homes to items that were practically new for next to nothing, merely to feel I had purged them and they would not make to the two suitcases.
I lost 25 pounds a few years ago, and despite giving many items away to a friend, still kept quite a few things I was sentimental about or meant to get tailored. It made me happy that formerly loved items would fulfill their destiny to be worn. The hardest item to unload was a five foot by three foot, framed, George Michael bus shelter poster. Regardless of my enduring love for George, I had been trying to part ways with the poster for several years. Originally a gift from a former boss, I gave it to a friend who was working at Vh1. She had it framed and messengered it to my apartment when she was laid off because her apartment was too small. Did I mention it was five feet tall? I am 5’4”.
It finally came to listing it in the free section (where a few other items ended up as well), on Craigslist. Free cycling is even better than getting five dollars for a pair of shoes. Why do we accumulate so many things? Have you ever looked at a home decor magazine and thought ‘where is all the clutter?’ Letting go of physical items that weren’t relative to the new life I wanted for myself got easier as each item went, so I chose to follow the advice of the animated hit, Frozen and let it go.
Stay tuned for the rest of the story! More to follow in the coming weeks…