In Glasgow they called me The Banana Box Lady of Gallowgate. Children stared at me and pointed, watching awestruck from a safe distance as I collected cartons from the kerb. Once I found myself idly gathering up strong boxes discarded outside a wedding goods shop, as the owner looked on, in wonder and fear. Collecting boxes has become an obsession (not as all consuming as my hobby of cupboard spotting, but slightly worrying, nonetheless.) I’m hoarding them for when I move again.
I’m settled and happy here in my new home. Even so, I haven’t been unpacking properly and I still have some boxes in my lounge. I don’t bother filing my vinyl meticulously in alphabetical order anymore. What’s the point? It’s currently hidden in the one cupboard, stacked in carrier bags awaiting digitisation. It’s been that way for years.
That’s how it is with short term lets: a short term mindset develops. Everything I hire, join or subscribe to, like phone, internet, societies, libraries anything really, is always chosen for the ease with which I can extricate myself. Many people live this way, but urban nomads like me are penalised for moving, and obliged to commit to eighteen months when realistically, they might stay at the same address for six moths. Everything is temporary. Even reduced rates for paying electricity monthly are misleading, as when the rental agreement has expired, you’ll end up pursuing utility companies for the amount you’ve overpaid, and they do like to hang on to your cash for as long as possible.
I unpack reluctantly, with half an eye on boxing everything back up again. My possessions re-emerge gradually, as I am wary of needlessly liberating belongings that will inevitably spend few halcyon months free from a swaddling of crunched up newspaper. I also maintain a stack of newspapers, just in case. Whenever I buy anything new, I have learned the hard way to hang on to the box it came in, as even a cheap tinny stereo will smash outside the box it called home. Perhaps that’s why I adore cupboards.
For your information, crisp boxes are no good, unless you reinforce them with parcel tape (look – ask me for advice whenever you want. I am an expert.) I wonder if the day will ever come when I can unpack completely, and throw all my boxes away. Actually, I’ll probably celebrate by burning them, dancing around a huge ritual bonfire with roaring flames visible for miles around.
But I dread packing. Every time I move I dread it even more. Every time I move, something loved or valuable is smashed or missing when I look for it. My best tip though is banana boxes, begged from the supermarket. I hoard banana boxes. In fact, I love them. They are strong and big enough for most things, yet small enough. You can’t overfill them and break your back, and removal men will acknowledge you as an insider, and appreciate your consideration. It’s scary that I know that.