I missed posting last Sunday because we’ve been cleaning out our two-year monument of shame: our garage. Two years ago, we moved from another house that had a full basement and attic. This current house has almost no storage, save for the garage. So, you guessed it! It’s been full of extras for that time. Add to that two southern, humid summers, and you get a whole lot of yuck. My goal is to have it cleared out before my son’s birthday party since the door is now inoperable and I can’t simply hide the mess anymore. Many items have been relocated to our new storage sheds, but a lot of it simply had to go. My life doesn’t have room for it anymore, however you look at that phrase.
Cleaning out has been at once emancipating and excruciating. I have a painful time separating the significance of my life from my stuff. And, I’m not talking about stuff that indicates status–most of this stuff was worthless, monetarily speaking. I’m talking about personal history and how it’s connected to the physical items that were part of that history. I was surprised to find a box of items that came to me after my mother died. Most of the items were mine, and I was glad to part with them. In fact, I felt a lot of contempt for those things and the years that accompanied them. But, it’s still a long process putting them in the garbage. Other things were not so easy to chuck. I felt so much guilt donating or trashing an item that was given to me by a dear grandmotherly figure or an old friend. What does that say about how I felt or now feel about them? If I let go of this item, will I lose this memory and, in effect, lose the significance of it? Will gutting my house of my possessions streamline my personal history into a wasteland of dream-like, blurry, and meaningless memories? Will it reduce me to an empty woman, void of memories, a shell full of shadows, amnesia-tic and irrelevant?
More to come on this topic.
I’ll be curious to read if any of those last questions come true for you.
I’m two months out from our grand purge and so far I haven’t missed any of it. To this point purging that stuff hasn’t changed my past, how I feel about my past, or my memories of my past. For me, there were moments in the midst of the purge that I wondered, like you, if I shouldn’t be throwing the stuff out. But I survived. I hope your experience turns out to be as painless as mine has so far.
It is true that once it’s out of sight, you forget about it. (I have that same experience with shopping, too) I struggle with understanding how to honor the memory of those I’ve lost in how I treat their “stuff.” For instance, I had lots of furniture that my precious grandfather made, but most of it does not fit my evolving aesthetic. So, I had to get rid of some of it. I still have three pieces that mean a lot to me and get used often. It’s the same with my kids’ clothing and ESPECIALLY their little drawings. I think the subconscious thought is, “What if my kids died? Wouldn’t I want this?” So, the stuff seems to be intricately woven into my troubled thoughts about mortality.
Whoa. Okay, that was heavy. I need to do something mundane now. Thanks for your comment!
I am in awe of you. Can you come clean out my garage next?!?! 🙂
Oh, my dear. We are still hammering away at it! Another several boxes sorted this weekend–I’ll have a new post up when the dust settles (literally, sort of.)
I can so relate to this. When we moved 2 years ago, it was from an 1800sq.ft home into an 800 sq ft. old cabin. Oh I forgot to mention the “we” is my family of 6. Needless to say I had more stuff on the porch in plastic boxes for longer than I care to mention. I donated quite a bit, and there is still more to go, but I am happy to report that it now lives in our storage shed my husband so wonderfully assembled this summer. I also can relate to your comment above because, having a sentimental heart does not go well with simple living 🙂
Hi, I’m Noel. Nice to meet you. I’ll be back 🙂
We are also a family of six! I told my husband that if I had known that everything would be wasting away for two years, I would have tossed it before the move.