Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Possession Regression

If materialism is a disease, I've had a relapse.  In the process of moving to a new apartment, hosting our first visitor in Hong Kong, and partying in Lan Kwai Fong for the first time, I have lost years of emotional maturity and quite possibly actual years of my life given the amount of second hand smoke I inhaled in clubs this weekend.  In my best effort of self diagnosis, I can trace this regression back to the official 'Moving Day' when we were finally relocating to the new apartment in Sheung Wan.

By now, the concept of moving to a place that I will be calling "home" seems quite foreign.  Though I moved out of the house I grew up in when I was eighteen, I still considered it my real "home" and permanent address until this August, when my parents decided to sell it and move on.  When I lived in New York, I moved apartments pretty much every year.  I avoided the hassle of finding, furnishing, and decorating a place of my own by finding friends who had another roommate moving out and were looking for a new one.  As a result, I never needed to do much outside of organize my bedroom, and I didn't really own or have a say in any other part of the places I lived.  This was fine by me, as I didn't have an urge to settle into one place and had resigned myself to a state of perpetual transition.  Maybe part of me knew that l was just a visitor in the lifestyle that a job in finance afforded me - the great views, boutique shopping, frequent weekend trips, and deliciously expensive dinners.  I don't mean to say I was above it all -- I enjoyed every second of it -- but no part of my life in New York ever felt like it was really mine, if that makes sense.

So, as you may or may not be able to imagine, sorting through all this emotional shit surrounding moving is a much more daunting task than packing and unpacking my actual belongings.  On one hand, I feel eager to embrace a new home as this is where I will be staying for the foreseeable future, and the first place that I will actually endeavor to make my own.  I will be able to choose which drawers contain what utensils, the centerpiece for the kitchen table, and the color of the walls.  On the other hand, moving in with a significant other means pretty much giving up the concept of mine and converting it to the concept of ours.  Literally and figuratively, you must submit to sharing everything:  space, belongings, money, food, habits, schedules, secrets.  This concept is both very romantic and very terrifying, and in a last moment of resistance it sent me clamoring for something, anything, to be only mine.  I felt myself regressing, and I was compelled to scramble for the best drawer and closet space.  I felt irrationally competitive, violated, irritated, sad, and suffocated.  Tears and minor hyperventilation ensued.

After recovering from this initial shock, I have mostly come to terms with the idea of sharing these things with my boyfriend.  However, I know that I am lingering in this regressed emotional state as I have now found myself obsessing over our things.  I want the apartment to look, to smell, to be perfect.    As you can imagine, this is a lot of pressure.  The trip to IKEA was not just a casual Saturday activity.  No, these are serious decisions that must be made with care.  We need to have beautiful, yet simple plates, silverware, and tupperware.  Selecting the right hand towels is not a task to be taken lightly.  I feel obsessed with optimal organization, and I have a disturbing desire to decorate.  Yes, a nice orchid plant would look phenomenal right there.  Oh, I have a great idea, how about I put this candle in this bowl and I fill it with potpourri!  Oh wouldn't that be just lovely?!

WHO AM I?!  When will I snap out of this?  Intellectually, I know that this apartment does not dictate who I am or how good I am.  Yes, it is my "home", but it is also just a place where I happen to sleep.  And shower, and eat.  If it is messy, that doesn't mean I am a slob.  Well, it could mean that, but it doesn't automatically mean that.  So then why do I have the compulsive desire to clean it?  I feel ashamed of and disappointed by my relapse into materialism and perfectionism.  I have so many other exciting and meaningful things to be focusing on.  Hopefully, I will recover from this soon.  It just isn't comfortable when your head and your heart aren't in the same place.