Friday, July 31, 2015

Double Stuff (and not the fun kind)

In the early 1990s there was a TV commercial for Rubbermaid storage products that played to our desire to have stuff, organize stuff, and keep our stuff in place. Americans typically don’t follow the minimalist  approach to decorating. Our stuff is how we express our personalities and our success. It is how we fill other voids in our lives. It is how we stay connected to our past.

My husband and I very recently moved 3000 miles from the home we’d been living in for almost 11 years. Knowing we could not handle packing and loading and driving a household that far, we hired a professional moving company to do all the dirty work. Let me tell you, you do not realize how much stuff you have until you are UNpacking it.

We have been in our new house for one week. I am now at the point where I cannot unpack anything else because prior to moving we got rid of some of the furniture that all this stuff was resting on or in. We were trying to save moving costs by freeing ourselves from older, heavy furniture. Makes sense, right? Now it seems we didn’t go far enough in the freeing ourselves effort.

About 1/10 of the total amount of frames I have...
I’ve written before about purging a household, about only keeping what you use and not attaching too much sentimental worth to items. I thought I was ahead of the stuff game. And yet, I found myself unpacking a carefully wrapped empty Tiffany’s box. I found an empty Ziploc sandwich baggie (used). Random screws. Far too many pillows and picture frames. At least 20 misshapen t-shirts. Years-old door mats covered in dog hair. Sigh. How did this stuff get through the cracks?

For me, I was caught up in what I “might” need in the new house.

I was thinking ahead to when guests would stay with us…you must have abundant pillows! People need comfort! Well guess what, we don’t even have a guest bed, so extra pillows are pointless.
The Princess and the Pea re-imagined.
Another heavy was our multiple boxes of books. We both went through and donated a LOT of books beforehand, but neither of us could totally break free. Again, I kept my better books in the thought that guests staying with us might want something to read. My husband kept 100 or so paperbacks (a significant decrease from what he originally had) because he says he will re-read them. It was a battle not worth engaging in. We each have stuff the other thinks should be released. Ten-pound bag of Mardi Gras beads from 1998, I'm looking at you.

By day 3 of unpacking we agreed to spend the next year purging. It took us 3000 miles and 200 boxes to embrace minimalism. Not just keep only what we use, but for the next phase, move only what we use A LOT.

The kicker in all this is that because of strange interior design, we still have some cupboards and drawers that are empty, so like the family in the aforementioned commercial we could easily think “Hey! We need more stuff!” But I’m not giving in. I can’t go through this mountain of baggage again. 

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