I’m moving. I’m going through every room in my house and sorting through what I’m going to try to sell and what I’m going to take with me. This whole process has been upsetting and tear inducing. Today I wondered if perhaps this was God’s way of saying I was too materialistic.
I’ve lived outside of my mom’s home since 1994. My first official home was a one bedroom apartment- perfect for a single woman with no children just starting out. I met CF while living at that apartment. Married him. Bought a house with him. I couldn’t tell you how large our first house was but I know that as we’ve bought houses over the years they have gradually become larger and more expensive. As most homeowners know we tend to accumulate things the longer we’re living somewhere. In short, I have a lot of stuff. I like my stuff. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m a hoarder but I do tend to hang on to things. And that’s what I’ve been dealing with all week.
Why do I feel a pang in my heart at the thought of giving away the mug I bought when I was probably a young teen? It was from Hawk’s Nest and I’ve had it forever. I rarely use it so what’s the big deal? And yet it tore at my heartstrings to place it in the “sell” pile. There was also the lighthouse glass that I got on prom night my junior year. It’s not something I use but it was associated with a memory; I’ve had it for 30 years and moved it from house to house and state to state. I can hardly wait until tomorrow when I go through the glasses! I’m probably going to lose it when I set out the souvenir glasses from a restaurant we frequented on vacation in Florida.
I dread the thought of storing all the pictures of my kids that I’ve had hanging on my wall. I paid a lot of money to have pictures taken of my children when they were babies and those pictures are still proudly displayed. But no more. My photo albums will be tucked away and stored. The journals I wrote in to document my kids’ lives and the funny things they say also won’t see the light of day.
I have a huge collection of books. I’m getting rid of almost all of them. I may keep a few chosen ones but most of them, even ones I haven’t read, are going to be sold.
I’m selling off the bulletin boards I had made when I had a stainless steel refrigerator which meant I couldn’t hang anything on them. I knew someone who made these cute little boards with magnets and I figured they would be perfect to hang drawings and important papers. It’s not so much getting rid of them as it is the realization that I won’t be hanging report cards on the refrigerator. I won’t be hanging up Picasso’s drawings or any important papers. I honestly don’t know where the hell I’ll put any of that.
I look at all the seasonal decorations I just bought and hang my head in sadness at the thought of selling them. I worked so hard to make my home look festive- snowmen in January, hearts in February, leprechauns in March, fairies and flowers for May, mermaids, coral, fish and all things beach over the summer… Halloween and Thanksgiving, and Christmas and Easter decorations. All gone. I even bought a few new decorations just this past fall. I think my favorite one was the sign that listed all the wonders of fall; I hope its new owner likes it as much as I did. I bought them because I was determined to continue living my life despite what CF had chosen to do. Now those specific decorations have been used once.
I have hung inspirational signs all over my house but primarily in the kitchen. All of those are going. I have a few that I love more than the others, like the one that says: Enjoy the little things in life, for someday you will realize they were the big things. Or: Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain. My favorite though I think is my sign that reads: Wicked chickens lay deviled eggs.
I’m getting rid of most of my beach towels. With us downsizing so much AND moving in with my mom we don’t have a need for 10 or 12 beach towels. But here’s the thing. Every summer for more than a few years now I would buy each of the kids a new beach towel at the beginning of the season. So I’m not just getting rid of beach towels; I’m getting rid of memories.
Like my shot glasses. They were a small, convenient, inexpensive way to commemorate the various places we had visited. Gone!
Who gets sentimental about towels? Me! It’s not the towel though. I have a fantastic memory. I can look at every single towel in my linen closet and tell you when I got that towel; I look through all the towels in our linen closet and it’s like looking at a timeline of our life. There are the towels that we were given as wedding and shower gifts. There are the towels I bought when we moved the first time, and the towels we bought when we moved the second, third and fourth time. Oh, those are the towels I bought for our last house when we needed a nice set of towels when we were showing the house. Finally, I have the towels I bought for the kids when they got their own bathrooms and could choose to decorate them however they wished. I’ll be taking those towels with us, of course.
I look at all the grape decorations I have, which are still in the boxes they were packed away in when we moved this last time. I’ve had those decorations since around 1998, maybe 1999. I’ve used them on top of cabinets in three different kitchens. I couldn’t use them here because we didn’t have cabinets that would allow us to place anything on top of them. CF promised to build me a shelf around the enclosed porch where I could use all of them. He never did, of course. As weird as it sounds those grapes have been a large part of my life.
It is the same for my huge picture of magnolias. It, too, was bought the first time we lived down south; it’s been displayed in four different homes now. It’s not so much the picture that is important. It is what it represents and the fact that I’ve had it for 17 or 18 years. It’s mine, dammit!
I’m going through water bottles and kitchen stuff. The water bottles represent different places we visited and sometimes things that were going on in my kids’ lives at the time. I believe I have admitted I have a slight crockpot addiction and I am keeping 3 of my 5 crockpots. Will I ever use them at my mother’s? Maybe at Christmas time.
I’m looking through my cupboards and seeing all the plastic plates I accumulated over the years when my kids were little and I wasn’t going to put a breakable plate in front of them. They obviously don’t need them anymore; they’re teenagers now for crying out loud! But we do use them still. They’re larger than a dessert plate but smaller than a regular plate, so they’re perfect for toast or smaller meals. Or for when I haven’t ran the dishwasher and I’m out of regular plates. Again, it’s not that they are needed. I’m not going to have to replace them. It’s that they are part of my family’s history; they represent a time when my children were young.
My brother has told me I should pack up and store all of my kitchen stuff. Rodents can’t destroy any of it and it’s not like plates go out of style. I’m getting rid of the plates and silverware and bowls anyway. I will probably keep the brand new hand mixer that CF bought me our last Christmas together and I know I’m bringing along my Ninja blender, my air popcorn popper, and new waffle maker.
I’m trying to tell myself it’s just stuff. It’s not important. People lose all of their things in fires and floods and other natural disasters and they survive. The important thing is the people. I have my kids. They are what’s important. I tell myself that I hung on to way too much and that even if the items represent memories I can always access those memories by simply remembering the event; I don’t need a souvenir or anything tangible for that. I tell myself that if I ever do move out into a place of my own that I can start all over and keep things simple. I even sometimes point out to myself that there is an awful lot that I never or rarely used which means I’ve spent a lot of money on stuff I didn’t need. Maybe this will be a chance to be more deliberate about what I buy. So why is this so hard?