It doesn’t seem fair. I already did this. Willingly took one for the team. With hardly any tears. Why is it happening again? I swear it’s a flaw in my DNA. Four years ago Hubs and I were in the midst of a major downsize, anticipating a move to a much smaller home. We had collected ‘stuff’ with reckless abandon for decades and it was the time to pay the piper. The collecting wasn’t done with much forethought. Furniture that appealed to us but needed work. We just kept accumulating more and more-stuff. The kids left one by one and we filled every nook and cranny of our house.
John and I accepted the challenge to downsize seriously. Went through boxes, closets, plastic containers, basement and garage with the intention of getting rid of absolutely anything we couldn’t live without nor would have room for in a smaller home. Or so I thought. The antique furniture was hard to let go. Many pieces were acquired when we got caught up with restoring and owning old oak furniture from 1970 until recently. The kids took most of the good pieces, but it was hard realizing our antiques were gone.
The number one clue that I hadn’t fully embraced my new leaner way of life was of all things, containers. Yup. When we put the lake home on the market, Mary gave us strict instructions to pare down every room in our house. For better eye appeal, and make our home look roomier. Not knowing how long it would take to sell (forever) or that we’d have to decide what to keep, store or toss, without knowing what kind of house we were moving into. So I bought plastic containers of various sizes by the carload. Lovingly wrapped and packed most of my doodads, because I wasn’t ready to give anything up just yet. Rented a storage unit and stuffed it to the ceiling with furniture and containers.
Once we knew our move east was imminent, we sorted through most of the containers, donating literally tons of stuff. But I didn’t throw out one plastic container. Not a single one. We now had about 20 which were empty. I insisted we move them all. I needed to first see where we were gonna live, what fit, what pieces I loved too much to part with and what I had foolishly hung onto for no good reason.
A few months after we moved we finally got to the last of the boxes and containers which were taking up half of our garage. Donated more stuff and felt pretty good about what we were keeping and what we no longer needed. (It’s inexplicably therapeutic after I’ve made the decision to “let it go.” It feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Then why do I dread getting rid of excess un-needed stuff? Yes, I’m conflicted). Hubs said I needed to donate a dozen empty containers but I could not. I just knew as soon as he dropped them off, I’d need a particular size for something that needed storing. (This was my unconscious way of allowing new clutter to fester and grow. It’s kinda like unwanted mold).
We have 5 closets on our main floor besides the pantry. I now have some of my ‘stuff’ in 4 of them. It started innocently enough. A few months after we moved, I got a part time job in the infant room at a fabulous daycare a couple miles away. I love those babies with all of my heart but dang it, they’re the messiest bunch of little people. Drool, spit-up, poop quickly became part of my wardrobe. I threw every piece of clothing I wore that day into the laundry. Then decided I needed easy care fabrics, just for work. For me that’s not only tops but another shirt/sweater to wear on top of the top, because I’m always cold. (Total count on white/off white sweaters I’ve pitched with multi shades of formula and breast milk spit-up all over the shoulders and sleeves stands at 4). Since I went to work at 6, I used the spare bedroom closet for all my work clothes so I didn’t have to rummage around in the dark in our bedroom while Hubs was cutting z’s.
See how it starts. If I wanted to use my new living room at all, I needed some place that’s comfy to sit, so I bought a nice Lazy Boy. Still rather empty and if anyone wanted to sit and visit me (a room without a TV) they could sit on the floor. Umm, no. Went to a nice used furniture place and bought 2 odd chairs. Yup, pretty much wall to wall furniture in there now. But it’s not the furniture, although one antique piece is driving me crazy. It’s a beautiful oak blanket chest in the spare bedroom which gives me about 18 inches to walk through to the other side of the bed. How often is that you ask? Maybe once a week. But I’m just stubborn enough because I’m still smarting after I had to get rid of my gorgeous wardrobe. If there had been a choice I would have kept the wardrobe. We could get it in the bedroom, but then we eliminated a doorway so we couldn’t get it back out. Ever. So I gave it to Josh & Erica for their early 1900’s house they’ve been remodeling for a couple years. It still stung though.
No, it’s the damn containers I keep filling up and storing that’s driving me bonkers. If I die before I go through each and every one of them again, all 3 of my kid’s eyes are gonna roll right out of their heads. So much useless stuff. And I don’t have the willpower to toss any of it away. Hubs doesn’t want any of these containers in his garage so they’re stacked in several rows, 3 high in my laundry room. Most of it’s from my parent’s house in Rock Valley. Handwritten sermons my Dad wrote 15 years ago. One container is filled with hand knit wool sweaters Mom made me 50 years ago. Over. Fifty. Years. Ago. One is stuffed with afghans Mom crocheted. Two are so heavy I can’t move them an inch from where they’re sitting. It’s gorgeous china (Apple Blossom by Haviland) I bought at Mildred Johnson’s auction. In North Muskegon I displayed the enormous set of dishes in a china closet and actually used it once in a while. Have not used the china in 4 years. I would love to give it to someone who would cherish and use it, but no one in the younger generation wants to use old fashioned china. But I can’t part with it. It would be a huge betrayal to Mildred. (I loosely took care of her for a couple years, got her groceries, took her to the doctor, and her unruly cat, Charlie to the vet. Unfortunately, I discovered Mildred a couple days after she had passed away. Cried about that for months).
Now I’ve noticed my closets are way too crowded. Purses, jackets I’ve not worn in 5 years (boiled wool), and crafts. You know I’m the least crafty person in the world and my almost 10 year old grandson Graham is past these silly art projects we used to do. Yet one closet has at least 20 canvases waiting for someone with talent to paint. Yes, I should keep a couple because 2-1/2 year old Jovi is almost to the age where she’ll eagerly do projects with me. But 2 tubs of small bottles of paint? Goodness, whatever possessed me? How many different shades of green does one need when one does not paint?
I looked up the word purge. To get rid of. Exactly. I’m starting with the closets (mostly because I’m still not ready to deal with sermons, sweaters and an 12 place setting of china with accompanying pieces). I decided 9 months ago I was done dyeing my hair after 35 years. It took 8 months to get rid of all the fake brown color off my short hair. For longer than those 9 moths I’ve had 7 boxes of L’Oréal Dark Blonde sitting on the top shelf (quantities buyer-don’t ask). No more. It’s the first thing I emptied from the linen closet that is going to St. Vincent’s. Right after I load some more ‘stuff’ into the Jeep…