Monday, March 11, 2013

The Jones' Should Keep Up With Me!

With this summer’s move to San Diego, I’ve realized just how much stuff I need to get rid of in my garage.  I moved to the Pacific Northwest with a duffel bag and a suitcase.  Over the last 23 years, I’ve accumulated “stuff”.  Too much stuff.  What you gather as a single person varies greatly to what you hang onto as a mother. 

When you’re first starting out in life you collect stuff.  You think it’s cool and it gives you something to talk about.  You think it makes you interesting.  Before moving to the PNW, I collected old Singer Sewing machines, all in working condition.  My Mom sewed everything on her old Singer and without intending to and before I knew it, I had accumulated six or eight of the damn things. I’d see one at a garage sale or swap meet and feel compelled to give it a good home.  I got rid of the sewing machines before I left San Diego.

Fast forward through a baby, a divorce, and more than two decades living here and you’ll find half of my two car garage is boxes and totes.  There’s the camping gear that I bought and used once.  There are computers that I built that were old technology before I even had a chance to use them.  There are baby clothes that I can’t bring myself to get rid of.    

The list goes on and on.  It’s exhausting to think about. 

Three years ago it was worse.  It was children’s books and DVDs and dolls and toys that Aries would never use or watch again (from which our neighbor’s young girls benefited).  There was stuff that I’d moved several times and had no intention of ever using.  I spent two days going through the garage.  I took seven small truckloads to Goodwill.  Seriously.  Seven.

I thought I had it down to a manageable level but when I called Mayflower for an estimate, I about shit myself.  “You want how much to move my stuff to San Diego?!?!”   I took a good, long look at that garage.  I actually stood in the driveway, hands on my hips, just looking at it. 

I perused online home rentals in Dago to see what I’d be able to afford.  At first I was disappointed.  It would be good-bye gourmet kitchen and fully fenced 10,000 sf lot of beautiful grass.  In the last five years I’ve downgraded house size from a 3000 sf house to 2400 to 2100 to 1810 to happily land in a 1510 sf house all in the name of the Great Recession and my need to simplify.  With 3000 square feet comes a $2100 mortgage.  With 1510 comes $1200 rent. 

Where we’ll land in San Diego is yet unknown.  We’ll stay with my Bestie for a month while we search for a place but I’ve come to accept that there may or may not be a garage to store all my nonsense.  I went from being bummed to realizing this may prove to be liberating. 

We’ll be in sunshine and outside doing things, not stuck in the house for nine months of clouds and 40” of rain a year.  We’ll wake up to blue skies and walking the dog means not needing to time it between rain showers.   Rather than live a house with a yard I have to pay the gardener to tend, I could live in a three bedroom apartment with a pool and a gym. 

Suddenly all that shit in the garage that once meant so much I had to keep it, is now a ball and chain.  I’ll still keep the important things like Auburn Aries first rocking chair but I suspect that once I start the purging this weekend a lot more will go than I expected initially.

Not that I needed validation to get this chore done, simply getting rid of a bunch of stuff I no longer use and that I’m not willing to pay to move, was enough.  But I ran across this article today and not only did it give me pause for the cause but it helped me in a way I didn’t expect. 

I often times get jealous of my friends who appear to have it all.  They post on Facebook about how perfect their lives are and include pictures of their remodel or the inside of their houses and I realize how nice it would have been to have dual income these last 14 years to have acquired some of those nice things.  I look around my house I don’t have much but what I have matters to me.  I lean toward being a minimalist anyway.  You won’t find knick knacks or kitsch or excessive crap on my walls.  I like simple, open spaces.

But reading that article helped me squelch some of the ‘I wish I had’ and put it into ‘I have all I need’ perspective.  Some people like to live in one house forever.  I like to live in different places.  I tend to fly by the seat of my pants, albeit a little less because I’m raising Auburn Aries and she needs to feel grounded.  But I’m cool wherever I’m at because I know it’s exactly where I’m supposed to be. 

This summer when the movers back up to my garage, they’ll be there a fraction of what they would have been and when I unpack my place wherever it may be, it’ll be with a lot less baggage.  Figuratively and literally.