Day and night, for weeks on end we’ve been sorting, tossing, packing, stacking, moving, cleaning, selling, giving away, organizing, and analyzing each and every item we own. Well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Or maybe it’s not. It sure feels like that’s what we’ve been doing.
We have lived on land for three and a half years after living aboard for seven. You would not ever guess this, if you could see how much stuff we have accumulated in that relatively short time span. When we moved to our rental house from the house we sold a year ago we filled a 24′ Uhaul van with not an inch to spare. And that was after giving away a ton of stuff.
We ask ourselves: how did we get to this point where all this stuff seems to run our lives? We don’t even shop all that much (except “we” sure are weak at Costco and Target and ebay). But somehow it’s just come rolling through the door, cluttering our rooms and our lives and now we have taken on the task of getting rid of nearly all of it.
This is not easy to do in several ways. When I thought about this the other evening, collapsed into a heap of exhaustion after another day of sorting and packing, I realized that I have held nearly every item we own, and have had to decide: take to the boat? keep in storage? sell? give to the thrift shop? It hasn’t been physically taxing so much, although I’m sure I’ve walked at least 10 miles this week back and forth and across the house while sorting. Rather, it’s this mental decision-making process that has turned my brain to mush.
We are getting rid of nearly all of our furniture, except for a couple small things that have been in the family for a long time. Everything else has gone up on Craigslist. This can be delightfully quick and easy, like the young college student couple who came to our front door, handed us $150 for our dresser, popped it in their van and drove off. Or, it can be a time-wasting nightmare, like the guy we’ve emailed back and forth about the intimate details of our $20 computer chair for two days, then he was supposed to come by two nights ago at six, never showed, then promised to come the next night, never showed….
Which makes us want to do with everything what is really fun: sticking it out on the sidewalk and putting a free sign on it. When we were moving aboard for the first time 11 years ago, we were down to the last items in our apartment and just put them all on the sidewalk as we had to be out that day. An older fellow of clearly modest means walked over and saw the microwave sitting there.
“Are you giving this away?” he asked us.
“Yes, please take it if you want it!” we replied.
His face beamed as he picked up the unit.
“Wow, thanks so much! I’ve never had one of these but have always wanted one.” and he carried his new prize down the street pleased as punch.
We’ve never forgot the joy this fellow felt at his free gift and have since much preferred just putting things out on the sidewalk with a big free sign on them. This time too, I’ve seen people walk away with lamps, dishes, toys, art, cds, books tucked under their arm, delighted with their new found treasure. And I grin too, much more satisfied than the dollar or two these things would garner at a yard sale.
As I type this, it’s Saturday. This will be our last night on land. Tomorrow, we’ll haul the most important items to Wondertime. It will only be a carload or two. Everything else — and I can’t even remember what now that it’s gone — will be out in the world maybe becoming someone else’s important thing instead of gathering dust in our closet. It does feel good to set this stuff free.