I have been swamped under moving-related things, quite honestly overwhelmed by the task of categorizing and inventorying every single thing in my house before our move in a few months.
How is it possible to provide a monetary replacement value on the handfelted Swedish tomten decorations I fell in love with and bought in Stockholm, one of the few places I’ve visited where I instantly felt at home? What about my antique blue and white enamel water pitcher, which I bought from a cardboard box at a brocante in our Quartier Antiquaires for 5 euros on a blisteringly hot summer Sunday and which has held so many bouquets of apple blossoms and peonies and lilies and daisies and carnations and other signs of ebullient summertime in France? (and which, eBay shows me, has comparable brethern for sale for hundreds of dollars?)
I am a collector of things, far too many things. I cart around small vases and pitchers, and sweetgrass baskets and hand-painted brooches and lozenge tins. It’s making me anxious to think of putting my treasures into the hands of unknown people to keep safe and loading them into giant metal boxes and onto huge ships for weeks of crossing the ocean and tossed about on the docks. They didn’t cost me much at all, but they’re precious to me, and I am having trouble being heartless enough to put baldly on paper that my beautifully polished-by-the-sea heart-shaped rock, the size of my two fists, from the beach at Dieppe, pearl-smooth and soothingly gray has a replacement value of zero dollars. It’s worth nothing (except the memory of the standing on a beach of the Normandy landings, windswept and sunblasted, slipping as I walked on the rounded stones and listening to the sucking hiss of the waves sliding back to the sea.)
So, that’s where I’ve been. Tallying canning jars and counting forks, folding up woolen blankets and noting how many of what size pillowcase is in which box. And everything is entered into a massive spreadsheet, wherein the only blank column remains “replacement value” because I cannot yet bear to add up the sum total of my life here in France.