Where did all this stuff come from?
It was with great pride that a year or so ago, we downsized from a big house to a small house and got rid of tons of accumulated stuff. We had too much storage capacity in that house. And we filled it all up over the 13 years we lived there.
It got gross. I was ashamed of the excess. It felt GREAT to get it all out of the house and recirculating in the world. I like to think a lot of it ended up in the hands of people who could use it.
And even though there were still a lot of boxes left without a place to go when we moved, it was a huge improvement.
It’s been only a year, and it seems to have happened again. Too much stuff. Everywhere.
“A place for everything, and everything in its place.” they say. Who are “they”? I need “them” here. Save me.
Part of it has been the absorbing of two of our kids’ childhoods. Our two oldest daughters have been shedding their high school and college lives into our garage and loft. Both are establishing more grown-up digs, and the dried up corsages, photo collages, decorated coffee mugs and club t-shirts didn’t make the cut. But they’re too precious to throw out, so they stay in boxes….on the landing….then in a stack in the corner…to go to the garage…but the mice may find it there. So it lands and stays.
Plus, the two younger kids – now in high school – are growing like weeds. I mean to say, tall weeds. Each has changed sizes in the year since we moved here, so there are clothes everywhere. For each item that is too small, there was one last wear, following by one last laundering….which landed it in a folded pile…which returned to the bedroom, and stayed in a stack. Wearable items were grabbed from below it, and above it, and it eventually fell to the floor….where it was mistaken for dirty laundry and send back for yet another laundering. And it never escapes the cycle.
Summer clothes suffer the same fate when the weather turns cold. They stay in the “current” pile. Until neglect sends them to the dreaded floor where they are eventually scooped up and laundered again.
And socks. Who hasn’t suffered from odd half-life of socks? Once divided, never reunited. Socks are not monogamous…so they end up in a disgusting sock-orgy – now two feet deep – that no one wants to sort out. Every time I hear a kid holler, “I just need a pair of black socks!” I want to throw my head back and scream. But instead I manage a chuckle and I shake my head. Because I know it is one of those life truths that few can escape.
Then there are the towels that become “dog towels” in our house. Even though I can’t remember the last time we dried a wet dog with one. Turns out wet dogs do dry on their own on a farm. Yet the dog towels make it to a stack anyway. Where they are grabbed when the “good towels” are gone. The dog towels never really die.
And part of the clutter is paper. School handouts. Church bulletins. Mail. In stacks. Bills that get paid on-line automatically, mixed with unique and interesting bills that haven’t been set up that way. And catalogs that have one cool thing in them we might need. Coupons that arrive the day after an errand to that very place. Statements that aren’t invoices. And magazines. For history buffs, hunters, homemakers, health nuts and sports fans. None of whom have the time to read them. I look forward to the day when I can soak up a magazine the day it arrives. That will be a good day.
But how to motivate the crew to move these mountains….
I think I’ll stage a disaster. Like a flood. Genius.
Now, I hesitate to make light of such a thing. I have a dear friend whose life was profoundly changed by the devastation of a flood. They lost almost everything. But then again, they didn’t. It’s worth thinking about.
So what would happen if I woke the kids in the middle of the night and shouted at them that we have two hours to load up the truck with anything they want to save from the rising river. That’ll thin things out. I’ll donate anything they don’t load in that truck.
Hurry hurry hurry! I’ll shout. The river is flooding! Pack your stuff! We only have two hours to get outta here! If you’ll need it in the next year, grab it! This is it, guys! Chop chop! Everything in the truck! Let’s go!
Wait a sec.
I know what’ll happen. Bleary eyed, they’ll groan… Mom, you always say ‘We don’t care about stuff’. So jus’ wake me in two hours before we have to leave…
That’s it. They’re right.
It can all go.