Life with a smile – Unpacking the final box

Published 6:36 pm Friday, October 4, 2019


Contributing columnist

With every relocation, there’s that one last box that resists being unpacked. Long after the dishes are in the cupboard, the clothes are in the dresser and the hair dryer is tucked into its new drawer, that last box lingers. It sits in the corner of the den, or just inside the door to the attic, and it watches you. 

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You know what’s in the box, sort of. It’s all the final random odds and ends that didn’t fit into any other box and thus got bundled up together and tossed into the back of the moving van at the last minute. It’s full of weird things like a pack of unopened glow bracelets, a few tiny items of doll apparel, a nightlight that may or may not work, several cords to technology you no longer own and some paperwork you probably should have filed away, but haven’t needed since you packed the box.

I moved into my house almost three years ago — and I still had the box. It was a large grey plastic storage tub that lived in the corner of my den underneath a stack of laundry baskets. Every now and again, I would pull it out and open the lid for a quick peek, only to slam it again quickly for fear that the chaos inside would spill out into my house like the contents of Pandora’s cursed box. 

I sympathize with Pandora. She’d probably carried that box with her through at least four moves before she finally opened it. Is it any wonder the contents had turned malevolent by then?

So I avoided the box. It served perfectly well as a staging area for laundry baskets, after all, elevating them to a more respectable height and giving the suggestion that perhaps those baskets weren’t simply tossed in a haphazard heap but had been placed in that very location with care and discernment. These considerations are important in the feng shui of one’s home. 

But the box is patient and it does not judge you for your procrastination. It simply waits until you finally break down and deal with it. In my case, my desire to clear out a corner of the den to set up a new art-making station (for myself) won out over my desire to pretend the grey box didn’t exist.

Of course, in the end, it wasn’t really so bad. The mismatched children’s socks went into the trash, since any hope of locating their match had clearly long since passed. As did the partial bottle of hand sanitizer. The unopened silicon kitchen mat made its way to the kitchen at last. The tattered spiral notebooks and the children’s encyclopedia of superheroes with the missing cover went into the recycling bin, while the portable DVD player exchanged its place in the box o’random for a place in the Goodwill box. I filed my divorce papers away with the other few bits of paper that still manage to remain important in our paperless world. 

Then I put the empty storage tub into the attic, looked around my “new” house once again, and pronounced it good. If I’m honest with myself, I suspect there may be another “last box” lurking in the closet in the garage, but as long as it stays there and doesn’t make trouble, I’m content to leave it alone for a while longer.