Perusing the scene at home in my mind, it didn’t seem to me there was all that much left to do when we arrived to close on our house. We had already found homes for nearly all our furniture and had a handful of boxes in the attic, a couple in the basement, the last remnants of the kitchen tools and a few clothes left to go through. I felt confident we could sort through and get rid of the remaining stuff quickly. What I didn’t reckon on were the emotions and how much tedium was to be involved.
Monday morning I started by going through clothes; sorting, keeping, throwing away, assembling a give-away pile and that in itself was difficult due to our lifestyle and a future of sailing in a climate with moderate fluctuations. I opted to keep mostly a casual collection of jeans and Tee’s with one nice outfit each for special occasions, to be supplemented by other layers of sweaters/sweatshirts and long johns.
It was difficult to discard perfectly good clothes that I really liked! So the next trick I resorted to was trying them on. If I didn’t like the way they fit, they were out, even if I had just bought them. Hopefully I will think twice when the urge hits to buy clothes.
Next was the kitchen. We had already gone through and given away ¾ ‘s of the kitchenware, baking sheets, small appliances but I still had to pair it down to something that would fit in a boat’s galley. Not exactly knowing what I needed, I kept the essentials that every cook needs; knives, tongs, wooden spoons, peeler, grater, measuring tools, etc. Next, most every glass item was tossed aside since shattering can be really messy and irksome in a place you spend the majority of time barefoot.
The things that were most difficult to part with were items that had special sentiment; inherited dishware, handmade plates given by a special friend, pots and pans, a Christmas gift from Kevin. Those decisions had to be made and while I found loving homes for most of those things that I know will treat them with care and love using them as I did, I kept a couple I just couldn’t part with.
The rest of the kitchen went swiftly since it was mostly foodstuff that I could give to neighbors or to the local pantry. Out went cookbooks since most recipes are found are online or downloaded to our eReader. All my plasticware – gone (they are easily available in the stores for cheap). In all we ended up with 2 tubs of kitchenware.
The thing I thought would be easy (all the boxes in the attic) was actually the most difficult. We hired a couple boys from the neighborhood to bring them all down from the attic and lay them out in the living room so I could sort through and repack them into tubs. They were things previously sorted out as items most likely to go with us; camping supplies, memento’s, tax papers, shoes, etc. Ha! And I still had to find the titles to our vehicles… ALL of them! I never did find them which meant a trip to City Hall and $50.
After some discussion mixed with a tad bit of encouragement from Kevin, I went through all our tax papers and kept only what we might need for audit purposes, while he stayed up late one night sorting through 2 boxes of Navy memories. Nearly all the camping gear was donated to charity or given to the neighborhood boys. Shoes that I loved… reduced to 4 pairs! This had become a pile of stuff we HAD to go through item by item and decide it’s fate and it was emotional.
Next it was time to pack. The living room by this time was a shambles. Already stacked in a corner were 3 ½ tubs of privileged belongings. Next to them were 2 huge bulging black 55-gallon garbage sacks. It amazed me just how much importance I placed on things that now relegated to the black bag, a huge weight begin to lift. Excitement began to build at the idea our lives would soon be streamlined and unencumbered by stuff!
Big bulky items like clothes, towels and sleeping bags were stored in big Ziploc vacuum bags. Packing the tubs was like a game of Tetras, wedging, repacking until everything fit as best I could get it. We ended up with 11 tubs and 2 canvas totes of household/personal items, 3 tubs of tools as well as a handful of bulky items that just wouldn’t fit in a tub. This is 6 containers more then we targeted so we obviously need to downsize more!
The other emotional aspect was leaving our neighborhood. Even with phones and social networks there was a realization we were leaving behind some really great folks. So our evenings were set aside for BBQ’s and shared glasses of wine with our friends and family.
By the time Friday and the morning of the closing came around we were both ready to be done with it. Kevin hadn’t even begun to tackle the garage until sometime Wednesday and I’ll let him tell his downsizing story. I really had no idea it would take so long but when it came down to the wire, we managed to be out an hour before the new owners took over. All in all, we have, at 50+ years old managed to weed through all that stuff we dread other people having to deal with after we die.
And I really hope to never accumulate that much again!