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My life in a suitcase

We fly to the United Kingdom next Friday. We decided not to take anything with us beyond what we can get into our plane luggage allowance.  I have now succeeded in reducing 33 years of accumulated debris to one suitcase.  I still have to weigh it to see whether it fits the 32 kg Emirate limit. So far I have not found this divestment of stuff to be liberating. I feel weighed down by the tyranny of possessions. The many objects that mark out a life. Or even more unbearable the many objects I have accumulated, do not want at all but feel too guilty to throw away. This I clearly link to my grandparents post-war culture of thrift. In my family one does not ever throw anything away.

The other important thing is archiving. In my mother’s family objects must be cared for and stored in a vigorously ordered system. I feel overwhelmed when an object of a particular kind cannot fit with its counterparts but has to pollute my classification system by entering a box of objects of another type.

My father’s family seems not to have suffered from this need. My grandparents on my father’s side famously burnt all their second world war correspondence, later to be regretful only because the stamps turned out to have high value. Such wanton destruction of records would never pass on my mother’s side. My father’s father was Scottish, from Aberdeen – Wyllie – while my mother’s side comes from an English lieutenant (Dale).  So perhaps the Dales are the repression of the English as opposed to the disorderly rebellion of the Scots – something which plays out repeatedly in my immediate family.

I remember a story grandad Wyllie used to tell of World War II, when his camp was burnt to the ground and they no longer had anything to carry. He remebered this as a day of great freedom.

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