The Wide Angle: Relocating stuff and things

Published 5:32 pm Tuesday, June 11, 2024

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No matter how exciting the act of change can be, the act of moving to get to that point is generally a pain in the … well, it’s just not a lot of fun.

As you are no doubt aware of by now, the Austin Daily Herald is in its new home at 1511 West Oakland Avenue. It’s been a long road to get to this point and we left a lot of history behind, but the move makes sense.

Staff wise, there just wasn’t enough of us to warrant a building that had its share of old bones and nagging injuries. This new space fits our needs a lot better.

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The space is homey and quaint and has all of the creature comforts we would require. Heck, the newsroom kind of feels like a college set-up, complete with small fridge, couch and chair.


That doesn’t mean the act of getting here was at all fun — because it wasn’t. I’ve moved a fair share of times during the course of my life. From home to college, college to home, college to Huron, South Dakota, Huron to Austin and now old building to new building and what all of these moves have in common is that it requires you to shift a large amount of stuff to a place to house said stuff you have deemed important enough to pack up in boxes.

Speaking for myself, I tend to be a lower-tier hoarder. Not so bad as to require a “reality” show on TLC, but enough of such to annoy myself and probably others.

Digging through a box for something a few weeks ago brought me upon something that I brought with me from Huron for whatever reason.

Even writing this I really can’t remember what said “thing” was, not to mention not knowing a reason why I thought it was important enough to bring it with me.

Knowing myself like I do and being familiar with all of my delightfully annoying habits, it probably boiled down to something along the lines of, “I just never know when I might need this very thing,” not knowing of course that years down the line I wouldn’t remember what this was while writing a column for my 43 biggest fans.

Still, it tends to follow somewhat loosely something my dad would always tell me when I was trying not to bring a coat somewhere: “If you have it you can always take it off.”

It’s the kind of advice that drives know-it-all kids up a wall. We all had it perfectly worked out when we were kids. By the time we are 15 we have accumulated all the knowledge in the world, or so we thought. Sadly, we are always derailed by that kind of advice that can’t really be argued with.

At any rate, a notion of that advice can be carried with a person when getting everything in order to move. About a week and a half before our exodus across town, I started putting things into boxes and quickly realized that I kept way too many things.

Some had professional or personal relevance, like the credentials for covering President Barak Obama in 2011, and from my one and only NCAA college softball game between the Minnesota Gophers and Iowa Hawkeyes, featuring one of area’s own,  Dani Wagner, playing for the Gophers.

Other things like an accumulation of wires that seemingly have no place in a modern newsroom, make absolutely no sense, which brings us to that pivotal point in every move when the decision must be made: to throw or not to throw.

Not so introspective as Willy Shakespeare’s “to be or not be,” the idea of throwing things away tends to be just as important in terms of people trying to determine what to do with all of their stuff and things.

I reached that point around about the second drawer of the second desk. Honestly, that second desk was really nothing more than a glorified junk drawer on all accounts. It was an intermingling of things that would need to go to the next place and things that need to go to the garbage. There’s a certain sense of finality to it, but it also turns out to be fairly liberating. Once the first few things are tossed into the trash, the rest becomes easier and easier, especially as time fast forwards in urgency.

I was the last to leave the building that final night and still had some things to pack up or throw, but that urgency and finality finally left me after the last bit of garbage was taken out. It was freeing in a sense, but not without a little bit of emotion.

No, nothing along the lines of a bouquet kept from a wedding or some notion of forgotten past kept from high school. Rather, it was something akin to a shift in life.

I had spent 20 years in that building, 15 years past what my original plan was if I’m to be honest, and within those drawers I often found 20 years of stuff — for better or worse — that coaxed memories to the surface. Some good, some bad, some ridiculous.

Now, some of that stuff was in boxes ready to be dragged over to the new place and later unpacked into a smaller space. I only have three drawers in one desk for my stuff and given my history of stuff collection, I’m going to have to make some serious decisions down the line about what to keep and what to toss.

Huh, maybe I do need my own TLC show.