I read an article recently about being tidy. The author of the article admitted they were not a tidy person and shared their newfound tips for being tidy. Most of those tips were quite foreign to me. Tidiness is not my first thought, not what I think is important (until the clutter gets to the point where I have a minor freak out and do a whirlwind organizing). I don’t like things to be dirty – in fact I’m a bit of a germaphobe, but clutter and disorder doesn’t immediately register for me. Until, of course, I have to hunt for something I know I have… somewhere…
I’ve also been reading about minimalizing… it’s pretty trendy right now too. I’ve never been a minimalist, I’ve been a collector.
But I’m tired of having stuff these days. I want to have the bare minimum. That’s really easy to say, but hard to actualize. I think about the downsizing that I’m trying to do – you know, we had a house that was 3000 ft² and on and off over 16 years, between two and eight people lived in it. One time all eight of us lived there at the same time and you know even with eight people living in it wasn’t crowded at all.
Each time someone moved in and out, a few boxes were left in the basement, in the closets… and I was/am a collector myself, plus there was all the art supplies and pieces of art, so the house had a lot of stuff in it.
And then we moved to a house that is a bit smaller than 800 ft². A house that didn’t have room for more than 10 pieces of furniture (bed, 2 nightstands, bookcase, media cabinet, couch, end table, a small table, a small desk, and Wes’ leather chair). All the furniture in this house would have fit in one room of our old house with room to spare.
Everything that we didn’t bring with us, we put out on the boulevard to give away. And there was lots and lots of it. Days and days of dragging stuff down (or up) the stairs, through the house, out the door and onto the lawn. And still we ended up filling over half of a 4-car garage with stuff that I couldn’t part with. Granted, some of that is large tools (radial arm saw, planer, bandsaw, two lapidary saws, one tile saw, welder) that were too valuable to just give away.
I had the idea that I’d participate in the 100-mile yard sale this year, with thoughts of getting rid of a lot of the stuff I couldn’t quite part with last summer. Well, with the 60+ inches of snow since January, and the surgery, and the furnace and plumbing issues, and, and, and… I’ve only addressed a tiny fraction of the stuff I would need to sort out for a sale.
I’m sure part of it is that I HATE yard sales. Hate them. Hate the idea of them. I may be a snob about it, but I feel like my time is too valuable for the return. I should find someone who loves them and tell them they can have most, if not all, the proceeds, if only they will prep and run the sale.
I don’t want to just pitch stuff. There is a lot of stuff that others would get good use out of. And I need to keep the tools, the camping gear, the bikes, and much of the art supplies. And the books. Oh, my gawd, the books. When we moved, we reduced our library by at least a third and there’s still around 2000 books. There’s 40+ years of bibliophile book collecting in that garage.
And then there was all the energy it took and is still taking when I think about what’s out in the garage – the mental, emotional and physical energy of dealing with all the things. As well as the visual distractions.
It’s very interesting, the different feeling that living in a house that is very sparsely filled gives you. It seems super peaceful and calm. I think part of it is because all that stuff felt like, a not a noose around my neck, but definitely something that was limiting me in a number of ways. Even though I loved it all, it weighed heavy on me.
So it’s been almost a year now and I’ve not needed most of it. But I’m still not free of it, since if I need/want something that I “used to have” it’s still here, right out in the garage… if only I knew what box it was in…
And we’ve gone back to renting which is another piece of freedom. I know I will be happy for having the house when we sell it – it’s where we spent so much of our lives so far, and we can pay off our debt with the equity. But I’m looking forward to when it sells… because at that point we can, if we want to, just pick up and go. Having the possibility of being a nomad is very interesting, very compelling, very alluring. Not having a piece of property, not owning something, not being tied to something, that’s what attracting me now.
I think that no matter where we live, I’d have to think long and hard about owning again. I might like to build something, I’ve got cool ideas, but owning something, owning a house again, is not super important, it’s not high on my list. Maybe a tiny house on wheels… but maybe not.
For now I just have to figure out how to get rid of all the stuff… anyone interested in having a get together later this spring or early summer? I’ll fire up the pizza ovens. We’ll sort out the garage. You can take things home with you.