Part of the process of moving to a new place is packing up your belongings for your new life. How do you decide what to take? Will I need this skirt? How many books are enough? Can you ever have too many shoes? (the answer to that is no by the way – never enough, and you can never take too many with you anywhere!) Do I need ALL of my wine glasses with me? What would I need in this new life in a new place? What would I want to have with me to remind me of home and what do I leave to make room for new belongings?
For me however, this process was a little more complicated, not only was I trying to decide what I’d need for China, I was also trying to figure out what I’d need for the first time I lived with someone. My boyfriend was moving with me, I was going to live with a boy(!). I didn’t know how to live with a boy, let alone how to pack to live with one in China! Who’s kitchenware do we take? Who’s books, CDs, DVDs, etc? At that stage I still saw our belongings in two categories: mine and his. I hadn’t fully subscribed to the doctrine of ‘ours’. The packing process changed all of that. His book collections tripled with the addition of my pages, and my kitchen has almost quadrupled with the addition of his culinary equipment. We now had belongings that amounted to 78 boxes to be shipped out here.
A couple of days ago those same 78 boxes arrived to be unpacked in our new home. Those of you that know me will know that there are few tasks I loathe more than unpacking! Thankfully these would be unpacked by the moving company, all we had to do was arrange our possessions into their new homes. As we placed books on shelves and clothes on their hangers we realised that as prepared as we’d tried to be, we’d been slightly amiss in how we’d imagined ourselves living out here. Some of our London life belongings had no natural place in our Beijing life. Sixteen wine glasses and as many champagne flutes made sense in a home where having guests happened often. In our apartment here where our friend circle is still growing and our families are far away seems a little ridiculous.
Two days later and as I survey our worldly goods mingling with each other, becoming friends and getting acquainted with their new surroundings, I realise that’s the phase I’m still in here in Beijing. I’m still getting acquainted with this new life where my heels live next to his trainers and my champagne flutes are jostling for space next to his martini glasses. I still see myself with two lives and two selves: the London Me in my London Life and the Beijing Me in my Beijing Life. I’m searching for that point where it’s just me and just life, regardless of what city I’m in. Something tells me that’ll happen when Beijing feels like home. And whilst it hasn’t yet, with everything now here, it’s certainly starting to.