Possessions and Concessions

— Photo by Cary Kandel

Charlie Nadler grew up on Martha’s Vineyard and graduated from MVRHS with the class of 2002. Until mid-March, he lived in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles where he worked in the film and television industry and performed stand up comedy. He’s relocating to New York City, where he will continue to muse about his life on and off Martha’s Vineyard in his weekly “From Afar” column.

To belong or not to belong? That is the question I asked my girlfriend several thousand times while transferring a brimming apartment into small boxes and a Hyundai. She was very helpful, often erring on the side of “Abandon that, I beg of you, for the love of Goodwill.”

It was my apartment’s fault I had acquired so much stuff; high ceilings create huge closets, and empty shelves are bad for feng shui, and sure maybe I could have purged more in the past but throwing an item on a shelf was historically much easier than walking it out the door. The plethora of belongings made sense as I had been in this place for over four years. I tried not to move often. I was fortunate to only move once on the Vineyard as a kid and my possessions only had to go a couple miles across Oak Bluffs.

Clothing is always the easiest to discard. For this move I drafted a strong resolution not to become fat again, embracing an adult small (also known as youth XL) lifestyle and shedding all baggy garments. I also sliced my t-shirt collection in half, now leaving just seven hundred thousand to stow.

The funniest thing for me about packing is how it unearths exhibit after exhibit of bad decisions. Why did I buy a twelve pack of floss? Do we have room in the car for that much floss? Who do I know who will take a twelve pack of floss without thinking I’m a serial killer?

Then there’s the troubling post-removal phase of pawning off everything with “value.” It’s disgusting how little anything is worth on Craigslist. I swear you couldn’t get $20 for a $100 bill on that website. I resolved that if I must dispose of everything for pennies or nothing on the dollar, I would at least only deal and barter with my friends. That helped me feel a lot better. Phrases like “I’ll throw in this toilet paper holder for you to remember me by” have a nice ring to it and makes one feel a little better about a financial defeat.

Things were touch and go for a minute when I introduced the topic of my putting green making the cut. I don’t think my girlfriend realized it plugs into the wall and RETURNS the ball to you, which is historically much easier than walking over to get it. As I type this post in Astoria, New York I am staring at the putting green. It weaseled its way into the car, concrete proof she truly loves me!

It’s time to get off the couch and start going through these 19 boxes that surround me. The ones that arrived first will be the easy ones, labeled “Books” or something on the outside and neatly bundled and arranged, the product of an unstressed packer. What I’m most worried about are those last boxes, brought to the post office at the eleventh hour and “coded” in ways more complex than the highest CIA encryption. Who knows what lies under all that tape and cardboard?

My guess is enough floss to survive the zombie apocalypse.