Four Years And the Purging Continues

Garage sale

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Spent some time purging drawers and closets in anticipation of the hamlet-wide garage sale later this summer.

Dee has outgrown nearly everything, which caught me off guard because normally I shop for her every other year. She’s put on exactly zero pounds but shot up an inch-ish or better. It’s all legs. Devilish hard to fit the child’s waist. Girls’ clothing these days are vanity sized and reflect the chunkier body types that have resulted from our processed food/low-level of energy lifestyles. Dee is not the shortest kid in her class anymore, but she’s got a Scarlett O’Hara waist compared to nearly all of her peers. Tiny waist and coltish legs spells difficulty in sizing her, so just about every pair of pants I got her back in late February are now floodies and still a tad too big around her waist. Hobbit-legged and thick-middled, the girl ain’t.

I rummaged and purged my own rather meager collection of apparel myself, sticking slavishly to the rule that “if it hasn’t been worn in a year, its history”. I continue to pride myself on the fact that every article of clothing I own could be neatly packed into a large Rubbermaid tote should the need arise.

All this pro-activeness called to mind the agony of purging and packing for the move to Canada before Rob and I married back in June of 2007. In fact four years ago yesterday, we left Des Moines behind.

I sometimes miss the idea of that house.  The openness and space. Some of what we’ve done in our recent renovations replicates it in a way, but we are far from done and even farther from achieving liberation from boxes of packed away stuff that is never thought of much less in danger of every being used again.

Over lunch today, Rob ruefully expressed what he called his “buyer’s remorse” about the renovation project that never ends. Selling and buying new, however, was never an option. Real estate around here is overpriced and much of the newer stuff is poorly constructed. For a little bit of debt, we can create spaces in our existing home that will more than suit as opposed to taking on the monumental debt of a brand new mortgage for what amounts to overvalued real estate on a prairie that is downwind of various petrochemical plants. It’s somewhat of a no brainer.

It’s doesn’t make the process less cumbersome or tiring.

The last time I purged a house, it was slash and burn. Goodwill, friends and friends/relatives of friends benefited tremendously from my zeal to simply lighten my load. I gave away more than I sold and simply threw away everything else. And with only the occasional exception (it would have been nice to have kept that Pampered Chef pizza cutter because the one I have now bites in comparison), I haven’t missed anything.

That’s the thing about stuff that most people can’t wrap their minds around – it honestly won’t be missed once you are able to pry your fingers loose of it. In all likelihood, you will never waste another thought on it again.

I toy with the idea of just getting a waste-bin  delivered and just have a chuckfest. But, of course, I won’t. A lot of what constitutes clutter isn’t mine, and though I am convinced that it would be years – if ever – that anyone would ask after the departed items, I respect the fact that what I deem useless and spent embodies something important for others.

Accumulation of stuff seems to be a condition of life – unless one is a monk of some kind. Renunciates are what they are called in yoga. Renunciates eschew things in an effort to seek the balance between living in a physical world without placing too much attachment on it while Householders do the opposite while still being expected to rise above it all. I think the latter is the more difficult. Having fewer things, as I have learned, spoils a person. The more room I acquire the less I want to fill it up. The more stuff one has, the harder it is to decide what’s necessary and the greater the likelihood that one won’t recognize the tribble like nature of stuff. Stuff breeds because it feeds want.

Too much stuff blinds us as well because it fairly demands that we attach value – monetary and emotional – to it, making it harder to get rid of and easier to let pile up in one way or another.

I suspect I will spend the better part of the rest of my life waging a quiet war of attrition with clutter and accumulation. Most days I am zen about that but today it’s raining and cold and my hair is frizzy. Not that this has any bearing, mind you, and I have just been thinking  – again – about how to lighten Rob’s load without any success. Maybe banana bread and cookies? At least that’s not permanent clutter.

6 thoughts on “Four Years And the Purging Continues

  1. I’m a fan of the regular purge. As I get older it seems that more people give me more things. Gift-giving has its place, I guess, but I prefer things that can be shared with the giver. A plate of cookies, a bottle of wine. Things that don’t last forever but can make memories that do.

    I’m over-due for a clean-out. My last one was three years ago or so. I like to take it room by room and touch absolutely EVERYTHING in the room. Including basement storage. If I don’t need it or have a place for it, it’s out. This gets more difficult as my son gets older, as his definition of “need’ is a bit different than mine. And sometimes I feel as though I “need” little pieces of the baby he once was.

    It’s hard.

    But vital.

    1. Once the reno is completed (end of summer probably) and we can move furniture out of the basement, a true purge of the junk will take place and I expect that we will discover that the house is really quite roomy.

      A child does hamper the purging b/c, as you point out, their idea of a thing’s importance is different. I keep Dee’s baby things. I don’t know why. My mother kept mine and I didn’t pass but a couple on to my child and don’t think she will use much of what I (and she) have put away. Sentimental, I guess.

  2. As I start thinking about moving back to Maryland at some point in the not-too-distant future, I’m confronted with the idea of boxes of stuff that I moved out here … that are still in those boxes. It’s obviously not stuff I need, but it would be so much easier to simply re-tape the boxes shut and move them back. Ridiculous. I’m all in favor of a dumpster…

    1. You think when you are pitching that you’ll regret it a lot later – but you don’t. I have a stack of boxes in the basement with old notebooks and such and though I think I might want a few of them – the rest is junk and I know it. The same goes for a lot of what we call “keepsakes”. The memories are always mine and if I ever get to a point where I need physical manifestations of them to pull them up I rather doubt I will be able to access anything of consequence anyway.

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