Decluttering

In three months we’ll be moving 2400 miles, from Memphis to Seattle.  Right now I’m trying to start the process of decluttering all the crap we have built-up in this apartment.  Thankfully, we have two enormous walk-in closets to store everything, one which we can’t even step into because it’s piled about 5 feet high with STUFF.  Most of it is wedding presents and baby things.  Where do you put an exersaucer when you’re done with it?  That thing is huge!  We have so many serving dishes and fancy-schmancy china stuff that we got for our wedding, most of which I’ve used once or never.  I’m thinking we’re going to store a lot of that in my parents’ and in-laws’ attics when we move since I’m sure I’m going to want to use most of it when I’m older and actually have a kitchen that would support its use. 

Beyond all that, though, we also just have so much “memory stuff.”  I have in a box probably every photo I’ve ever taken in my life, all the way back to junior high summer camp.  Part of me clings to the thought that ONE DAY  I’m going to desire with all my heart to see those things again and I will never be complete without them.  ONE DAY  I’m going to want to wear those bell-bottoms that I wore my freshman year in college…that I haven’t been able to fit into for years.  ONE DAY  I’m going to need to smell pumpkin spice (or vanilla sugar, or cinnamon, or evergreen) and my life will be wrecked since I threw away that half-burned candle.  I’m a bit of a pack rat. 

I cleaned-out my closet the other day and sent 4 garbage bags to Goodwill.  On top of the 6 bags I sent last Fall.  Let’s just say that most of that was clothes that I haven’t worn in years.  Things that I bought when I was skinny and kept telling myself that ONE DAY I was going to lose weight again and I’ll REALLY be sorry that I didn’t keep them around…shirts that have shrunk over the years and no longer covered my belly…things that have just gone out of style….  Part of my problem is that I get very emotionally attached to things because I associate them with memories.  So, those pants I just threw-out that were the pants I wore the day Clay and I started dating?  I’m mourning them.  It was hard.  But my gosh, I haven’t worn them since 2002!!!! 

Like Merchant Ships has a great post about purging the things you own that are unused and unnecessary.  Perhaps this can be a spiritual disciline, to release those things that we’ve accumulated over the years but like to keep around “just in case.”  To ask ourselves what do we really need and how many black shirts do we really have?  Some memories are worth holding onto, I think, no matter how trite or how much a waste of space.  So I’m gonna keep the pictures, but I’m gonna chunk the candles.  I want to feel the freedom of being surrounded by less stuff that just sits there and doesn’t do anything for me. 

What do you think?  What would you keep that’s a silly memory object and what do you need to get rid of?

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One response to “Decluttering

  1. I can totally relate. Since I got engaged, I’ve been in the process of deciding what I have to keep. Before I got married, I decided that I had to keep everything. Well, almost everything. I did get rid of my third grade binder still full of worksheets and such, but I kept a lot of other things that I had a lot of sentimentality attached to. When I moved into a house after living in my apartment for fifteen months, I was moving with a two month old baby and all the things she had acquired since her birth, as well as anything belonging to my husband. So I got rid of a few more things. And then in the last year, I’ve finally been able to throw things out without a second thought to whether I’d miss them. My kids are fifteen months apart, our house is around 800 square feet and we have no closets. So it came down to either throw it out or pack it in the shed where I won’t see it until we move again. When I think really hard about why my house is a mess most of the time, I think I can pin it on too much stuff that I really don’t need. Oh, sure, save the decorative stuff for when you have more room for it (although by then they may be out of style) and save those three silver serving platters for when you may have a need for them…but pictures from junior high of people you don’t even really remember can probably go (yeah, I have tons, too). I recently went through an old photo album of summer camp when I was about fourteen and realized that I couldn’t even name half of the people in the pictures, and the other half were taken from so far away, I couldn’t tell who was in them. I decided that if there were people I knew and still keep in contact with, I would save the picture. I think I narrowed what was three rolls of film down to about ten pictures.
    I’ve decided that most of this has to do with my kids. I’d much rather save my daughter’s first Sunday school colouring page than a page of notebook paper filled with notes passed back and forth in high school. Also, I would rather take up space with love letters and cards to and from my husband than with birthday cards I received when I turned ten.
    So I can relate. In a sense, I can’t wait to move again so that I can narrow my belongings down some more.

    Like

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