Being a temporary resident

I remember back in 2010 when I got my job offer in Texas, I was mulling over how to furnish my future rental apartment. Back then, as an international student, I managed to get by with several pieces of furniture: serta twin mattress, ikea desk and drawer, and ikea poang chair.

Knowing I am going start a new job, somewhat of a new life, do I still go cheapo, poor international student style, or spend more on better quality furniture? The conundrum was I didn’t know how long I would be in Texas. Will I be there for 2 years, 5 years, 10 years? I had no concrete plans.

One day I mentioned my struggle to Inkeri, and she wisely said to buy moderately affordable furniture that I like and if I have to move again, I could donate my “nicer” furniture to others who need it. I was placated and happy with this advice.

I stayed in Texas for 16 months and then moved here. As advised, I asked around in church for anyone who needed furniture. At first I was given a name but the lady never followed through. So I went to ask the condominium maintenance staff if he knew of anyone who needed relatively new furniture. He came over the next day with a few friends and carted away my bed, mattress, study table, sofa and bookshelf.

When I moved into my previous place, I took Inkeri’s advice again and bought some moderately affordable furniture, but because I was no longer a poor international student, I could afford to buy more. Buying more included getting nice-for-now-but-what-about-later? pieces like the Ikea glass cabinets for my lego sets. Felt like such a great idea at first. When the Cheah family, who happened to be visiting then, had finished assembling it and we had to move it to the upright position, I felt a pang of regret – it was so heavy and so fragile. But it’s too late. Well, I had the 2 glass cabinets for 5.5 years and proudly displayed my slowly yellowing lego sets.

When it was time to move again, no one wanted the glass cabinets when I contacted two charitable organizations. I ended up having to pay $150 for people to discard the cabinets along with my spoilt treadmill.

Now that I’m at this new place, which feels even more temporary, I dread buying furniture because when I have to move again, most likely I have to pay people to throw away the things. But I also don’t like the feeling of living out of boxes and not having a “permanent” place for things. I’m rummaging through 3-4 boxes to find my things. So I bought a few “lightweight” shelves for my books, and the other day I went to buy one more shelf with a cover for my lego sets.

Come to think of it, with my cheap furniture and mattress on the floor, I’m back to living somewhat like a poor international student. Except that I have a Nespresso machine and an Aeroccino milk frother!

Sometimes I think this stress of I-have-so-much-stuff-what’s-going-to happen-when-I-have-to-move-again is self-imposed. Maybe the difference now compared to Texas days is that in this country, donating to someone who needs it is not as simple or easy.

In the end, I just have to pay someone to either move it or discard it. Cannot run away from that.

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