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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Travels with Gary by Kait Carson

My husband was a military brat. Army on his father’s side, Air Force on his mother’s. His Mom was a WAC in WWII, and she stayed in. Of course, in WWII, the Air Force was actually the Army Air Corps, then the US Army Air Force and finally after WWII, the Air Force, so the two agencies kindly posted the family together. Yes, for those who wonder, his mother outranked his father! The point of all of this? The boy moved. Every two years, he, his brothers, and sister were on the road. Pennsylvania, Arizona, Texas, California, you name it, they moved there.

Then the boy grew up and was drafted into the Marines. He got to see Viet Nam. Not a duty post he talks much about. He stayed in, was able to finish his degree at Temple University and was stationed in Key West. While he was there, he was offered a choice of assignments to work on some special projects. He decided to join the Air Force. The boy travelled, Korea, Massachusetts, Turkey, Alabama, New Hampshire, Maine. You get the picture. Then he retired.

We met and married. And we started moving, Florida, Maine, the Keys, central Florida….Really, wouldn’t you think he’d have had enough? Nope. Now we are returning to Maine. No real timeline, but the Florida house is going on the market and when it sells, we pack up home, hearth, cats, and maybe some birds and off we go. (Don’t be concerned, the birds are tropical, a Macaw and a Cockatoo, they wouldn’t survive Maine so we will re-home them. The Conure may be able to come. It will be a decision made by our Florida vet with our Maine vet.)

During all of these marital moves, I’ve managed to get the packing thing down pat. I’ve pared down, decided what’s really important (it’s pricy to move from South Florida to Maine) and learned to say goodbye to some things that I thought would matter. Over the weekend, I was going through my book collection, again. When we lived in South Florida I had a room of bookshelves, and the books were double stacked. This is in the days before Kindle. I pared that down before our move to Maine. Most of the paperbacks went, many of the duplicate books (paper and hardbound) and some books I knew I would never read again. I did the same thing when we moved from Maine to the Keys. Only this time, I was ruthless. Kindle had arrived, so all those books I was carting around in hard back, I bought in the Kindle format. Not really the huge expense it sounds like, a lot were public domain. Those I kept were gifts, autographed books, and craft books.

Craft books? Really? Yes, an entire bookcase of writing craft books. Almost all of the Writer’s Guide series. A ton of how to write a novel in a weekend books, even more about how to get happily published. You get the picture. So, in preparation of this move, I began looking these books over. That’s when it hit me. I’ve been writing a long, long, long time. I bought most of these books before publication was a possibility. Before I found writer’s groups, before I found writer pals, even before I figured out how to do first person research. Going over these books is like a trip down memory lane.

I remember what stories I was writing with each book. Why I opted to buy this book and not another. It was a fun trip. Something else struck me. These books no longer apply, except in what would now be called historical fiction. Oh sure, the poison books and the gun books haven’t changed too much, but the advent of on-line services and internet has changed police and forensic investigations. Even the how to get happily published books are out of date since they don’t use Internet resources for agent searches and social media was meaningless. Indie publication, at the time referred to as vanity press, was strongly discouraged unless you were writing a book for a family reunion.

When I closed the last book on the shelf, I tucked it back into place and knew I would keep them all. These books are my history. They remind me of my process, my hopes, and dreams. Ancestors in paper. They’re all going back to Maine with me.

What about you. Have you moved a lot? How did you cull the take alongs?


Jim Jackson said...

At my 45th high school reunion they gave out a prize for the person who had lived in the most places since leaving home, which I won hands down. (No one must have been long-term military because my 14 different cities would not have won, I'm sure.)

We still have two homes, so have not pared down much. A few moves ago we did tell the kids that their stuff stored in our attic either went to them or out, but we weren't moving it again.

Having had a believe my personal library might someday become the last bastion of the printed word, I had been unwilling to give away any books, but three moves ago I gave away all my professional books, and more recently we have been giving away more nonsigned books to church and library sales to avoid the necessity of building a third house to store the thousands remaining.

Best of luck with the whole process, Kait.

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

Although I'm a big Kindle reader, I have to admit reading nonfiction books electronically doesn't appeal to me. Perhaps I can get lost in a story, but reading textbooks doesn't thrill me. I also need to use my highlighter, which you can do on Kindle, but it isn't the same as being able to page back and forth like you can in a paper book. So, I understand taking those books with you. I keep mine in a separate place from my fiction paper books. Culling is hard, but you can only cull so much. Pack them up without apology, Kait. So many of us are hitting the road!

Warren Bull said...

I am going to move to Portland, OR. At the moment I am in the house-on-the-market time. Few things are packed. Many are hidden. We've been giving away or tossing thing for the last few years. Packing will come later. Would you like to come and help?

Kait said...

Thanks, Jim. 14 cities, that would probably give a military family a run for the money--maybe not the military member, but the family...could might as they say in the South! You've got to share your list, and your reasons. Books are so hard to part with. They are the family members we select in some ways. It took a while to stop pulling books back from the donate box to the keep box! Two houses is the perfect solution.

Kait said...

Thanks EB. You are so right about non-fiction and paper pages. Gary is an engineer, when I tried to get him to go kindle he handed me a book with pages of schematics and asked how those would look. The big kindle was out at the time -- don't know if they still make that -- not even that was sufficient so, I gave up. He reads fiction in paper too, he annotates margins. I'm glad that there are so many worthwhile outlets for donated books. When we left Maine a new library was opening in St. Agatha. They were thrilled to accept boxes of gently read books for their shelves. That was a win/win situation. And, although I wouldn't admit it outside this group, I think the books were happy too!

Kait said...

Oh Warren, thank you so much. I think I am having my hair done that day :). Good luck with the move. Portland is a great city I've heard. How exciting.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

I've started purging, with a long way to go. I try not to get overwhelmed and taking photos of items before pitching helps. My children turn up once a year, and we always take a tour of the basement, filled with scrapbooks, photo albums, sports uniforms, and trophies. They don't want the stuff, and are finally realizing that fact.

Jim Jackson said...

Jim's City List:

Albany, NY
Teneck, NJ
Ridgefield Park, NJ
Harrington Park, NJ
Ft. Lee, NJ.
Waltham, MA
Littleton Common, MA
New York, NY
North Salem (Purdy's Junction), NY
Tewkesbury (Oldwick), NJ
Cincinnati, OH
Erlanger, KY
Amasa, MI
Savannah, GA

Kait said...

Margaret, what a wonderful way to handle the overload. Doing it a bit at a time is an excellent solution.

Kait said...

Wow, Jim, quite a list and a lot of familiar names. I lived in Rutherford, NJ for a part of my childhood. Never heard of Purdy's Junction, but it sounds like a great place to set a murder!

Susan Schreyer said...

Holy cow! Kait, you and others have moved like you're on roller skates! I've lived in a bunch of different places (I'm counting 14 or 15)(a friend once told me that his address book was "replete with" my changing address), although I spent the first 18 years of my life in the same house. I hate to move. It's disruptive and unbearably stressful. Most of my moves have been associated with one life crisis or another, so that may be why. I told my husband that this last move was absolutely the last. They'll be carrying me out in a box next time!

Kait said...

Oh, Susan, LOL!I admit to being one of those funny ducks who likes change, which in my case is lucky! 14 or 15 is a lot of moves. The key, I think, is finding the one place (or two as Jim has done) place(s) that you belong. Once that happens, you'll know it's time to settle.

Kara Cerise said...

My family moved often when I was growing up--about 13 times by the time I was 15 years old. So I get antsy when I have to stay in one place. However, my husband does not like to move. We've moved a few times since we've been married, but have lived in our current house what seems like forever to me. I keep advocating for a move. In anticipation of a possible relocation, I cull our things twice a year. As a result I only keep books that have been in the family for years, have personal meaning, or that I use for reference.

I lived in Madison, NJ not too far from Rutherford.

Best of luck with your move, Kait!

Kait said...

Hi Kara, yes, I know Madison. It is striking how small NJ is, but like the 7 degrees of Kevin Bacon, there are so many of us who have passed through and have touch points. Moving is like yeast, it perks new ideas in new settings. Do you love travel also? There seems to be a connection between the two.

Gloria Alden said...

Kait, I've only lived in six places - not counting 2 weeks in our first apartment - and all those places are within 6 or 7 miles from the house I grew up in. I can't imagine packing up to move anymore. I have a huge collection of books including many that were my fathers. So the only way I'm leaving my home now for more than vacations or travel to mystery conferences or to visit my sister or my daughter,is on a stretcher or in a casket. All but one sibling lives within 50 miles of me and my son and one daughter live very close. I'd miss them as well as
other family members and friends who live close by.

However, I do have a sister in Washington state and my youngest daughter lives in California. She finally bought a house there after two or three years of traveling as a travel nurse. I enjoy visiting them.

Kara Cerise said...

Kait, I like to travel too. I think you're right that there is a connection.

Kait said...

@Gloria - There is something lovely about continuity. People who have lived in the same house (I know a few) or in the same town, for generations and their families are close. What a wonderful legacy to have.