We watched the closing ceremony of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games on a tiny, portable TV about the size of a postcard. We are currently in the process of moving, so our regular television has already been packaged in bubble wrap.
Thus it was, my wife and I sat in an empty living room, on a pile of cardboard boxes, eating reheated chicken pot pies, squinting at a tiny screen.
There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the Olympics. The Beijing Games have been termed the weirdest, most contentious, most disappointing sporting event of the modern era, with the lowest TV viewership to boot.
Fifteen-year-old Kamila Valieva was suspended for alleged drug usage, Mikaela Shiffrin left without a medal, American athlete Vincent Zhou was quarantined. And there was an empty medal stand where team figure skaters were supposed to be standing until a doping scandal got in the way.
Although frankly, I haven’t had time for the Olympics this year, inasmuch as our entire lives are contained in U-Haul boxes right now.
We are moving to Birmingham next week, and we have approximately 3,201 carboard crates in our house. Even our silverware and toiletries are contained in unmarked parcel. This morning, for example, I was was in the restroom when I realized we were out of toilet paper.
“We’re out of toilet paper!” I shouted.
“I already packed it!” my wife said.
Then she slid a Scotch-Brite dish sponge beneath the restroom door.
Most of the boxes in our house are marked with my name because stuffwise, I definitely have more junk than my wife.
There are boxes labeled: SEAN’S MISCELLANEOUS, SEAN’S STUFF, SEAN’S CRAPOLA, SEAN’S BAGPIPES, SEAN’S ROTISSERIE, etc. There is even a refrigerator carton in our kitchen merely labeled SEAN. This is the cardboard box my wife will bury me in.
“I married a packrat!” my wife has shouted many times throughout the packing process.
She’s upset because I have won the gold medal in men’s indoor hoarding for the last 20 years in a row. I never throw anything away.
I freely admit it, I hate getting rid of stuff. I’ve kept everything I’ve ever owned since the third grade because, the way I see it, you never know when you’ll need a box of eight-track Bee Gees cassettes.
Some of the useless items I’ve found this past week have been: half of an Algebra II textbook; a pair of rollerblades missing the wheels; credit card statements from the 1990s; a laptop that hasn’t worked since Windows 98; and a random yearbook with photos of strangers who attended a school I’ve never heard of.
Meantime, my wife has been “purging” her belongings. Which is a tedious process that is almost painful for me to watch. She sifts through a pile of junk, frowns at it, then tosses it into a waste bin without remorse. She is merciless.
In only a few weeks my wife has managed to fill six Dumpsters with her discarded things. By the time the moving company arrives, my wife won’t have enough personal effects to fit into a coin purse.
She and I couldn’t be more different. I’m a nostalgic person. Every object I have ever accumulated has deep sentimental value to me. And even though sometimes I’m not, technically, sure what the sentimental value of an object is—say, a broken Rubik’s cube—I know the value is there.
So it’s been challenging to dispose of my things. During the past week I have found myself grieving the loss of items that were very, very special to me. My Evel Knievel lunchbox is only one example.
So anyway, watching the Olympics closing ceremony tonight was a nice diversion from the painful experience of purging. Although, truthfully, our screen was so small that I’m not entirely sure we were watching the Olympics at all.
Someone get me out of this box.