Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Stuff

A few of my Facebook friends are in the process of moving. As many of us do in the modern world, they've shared their journey online, expressing their frustration and fatigue at the enormity of moving all your crap from one place to another. Sharing any journey online invites comment and advice whether you really want it or not, so here it is.

I've moved more than a dozen times in my lifetime. I used to think of it as fun and adventurous. Whenever we moved to a new apartment, my daughter and I would go out for a celebratory lunch and then walk around our new neighborhood to find out where the laundromat and supermarkets were. It was great fun and we were happy and excited to get to know our new surroundings.

Fast forward ten years. Now, moving is nothing short of a pain in the ass. It's expensive, frustrating and time-consuming. I've decided that I will move once more before I leave this planet and that will be it. Wherever I wind up had better be on the ground floor because I will be an old lady who can no longer climb stairs. It had better be in a good, fairly quiet neighborhood because I will be too elderly to dodge bullets or put up with partying on a regular basis. It had better be in the city because I like city life and I don't drive. I lived in a suburb for a few years and decided I didn't love it. Suburbs bore me to tears (grass! trees! More grass. More trees. Lovely, but not stimulating enough for me.) and I think they contribute to pudginess because suburbanites don't walk anywhere except from the house to the car. (Sorry, suburbanites! Write your own blog if you're deeply offended!)

Anyway.........when you're moving, you're confronted with making decisions about all the stuff you've accumulated in your lifetime. Old clothes, old photos, old cards, old memories. Keep or toss? If you're downsizing, you sometimes have to be ruthless about shedding some things that you've become attached to. The thing is, though, sometimes you find that you're not as attached to some of those things as you thought you were. You've just kept them because...well, just because someone gave them to you. "I can't toss this!  It was a gift from Aunt Blabby!"  Where is it written that you can't throw away a gift you don't like, didn't want, and never use, especially if Aunt Blabby never comes to visit?

Purging is sometimes necessary.  I've actually grown to love it, perhaps a little too much!  In my zeal, I've tossed a couple of things I probably should have kept, but other things were just dust-collecting, space-hogging, don't-even-remember-who-gave-it-to-me-or-what-I'm-supposed-to-do-with-it -burdens and I'm glad they're gone.

For me, it was helpful to break things down in terms of "like" and "love", which is another concept I got from my wiser-than-her-years daughter. I used to (and still do, sometimes) buy clothing that didn't match anything I owned. If I liked it, I bought it. Too often, though, it would languish in the closet for months because it either didn't go with anything else or didn't fit quite right. I went shopping with my daughter one day many months ago and started to look at something. She saw the look on my face and said, "Mom, do you LOVE it or just kind of like it?  You said you were on a really tight budget so you have to spend your money pretty wisely." I put it back because I realized that it was nice, but just "eh", not "wow, I gotta have it!"

It's not a hard and fast rule, but I still try to use that to this day in terms of a lot of things. My advice to those in moving hell right now:  if you find that you can't be ruthless about getting rid of stuff, try the "eh / LOVE" method. If it wouldn't kill you if it burned up in a fire, toss it!   I used to keep Christmas and birthday cards (in the days when people were actually sending those things) for years. I'd hang them up on the wall around the Christmas tree as decoration. But one day it occurred to me that Christmas was coming again so most of those people would send new cards. Why keep the old ones?  LOL!  As for cards or gifts from a beloved friend or relative that passed on, I say "keep".  I told a Facebook friend recently that memories are in our heads and hearts, not in "stuff", but like most things in life, that's not a hard and fast rule either.

My family photos are important to me. I have probably 3 or 4 photo albums and a huge metal box of unsorted photos of 30 years of family get-togethers. Oddly enough, I'm not in many of the pictures because I was often the family photographer. Ha!

One of my brothers passed on a few years ago (still heartbroken every day) and one of my sisters and her daughter don't speak to me (long story, too personal for cyberspace). Yet I will keep those family photos forever because those kinds of mementos can never be replaced. You know the old riddle. If there was a fire and you have to leave suddenly, aside from family and pets, what would you take?  Bottom line -- don't feel you have to toss everything just because you don't use it daily...but don't feel you have to keep everything, either. Find the middle and leave enough space for new memories.

1 comment:

  1. OK, this might start to be official...you are posting right before I get my first cuppa joe poured. Once again, my first morning read. I've moved (counting...including with my parents, on my own, and as married) 16 times. I, too, have said, with my husband, that the next move will be our last AND we will have movers pack and move us next time. Best story about NOT purging from me - I used to teach high school English and naturally thought that at some point might return to that so kept EVERYTHING (books, lesson plans, activities, etc...). On our move from NE to NY (a company move) the movers did not send enough packers to prep the house before the actual movers arrive to load the van so there was one lone packer in the basement furiously trying to pack everything (lots of should-have-been-purged items aka school stuff). Arrived in NY where all basement boxes were delivered to new home's attic. Couple of months later, I came across an unopended box labeled "Basement Shit." One frustrated packer, no doubt. :)

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