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Letting go of all the “good stuff”

Move number 46.  When I purchased my house almost three years ago, I swore up and down, “I will NEVER move again!” After forty-five moves, I was finally ready to settle into my career and patiently grow deep roots at my new home. I sowed young plants confidently believing I would watch them mature. I could see myself years older sitting in the yard fully ensconced in the privacy they would provide. I could picture a water feature that I’d add in the next couple of years. I felt so grounded. My family (and our stuff) at last had our forever home.

Ironically, Stan moved the majority of my stuff into this house while we were “just friends.” Life can be so extraordinarily unpredictable. The next summer Stan moved in with us…as we combined our lives, his stuff was added to ours. Although, Stan had already started taking a more minimalist approach what he had left were treasured items.

Decisions. Fast forward to the present. If we want to leave the US, “What do we do with all our stuff?” Much of what filled our house was special and held within it memories of family, old friends, my kids’ early childhoods, and our artistic endeavors. I was filled with doubts

How could I leave “all my stuff” behind? What do we actually “need”?
What if I regret giving my “favorite” things away? What if the house doesn’t sell and we have to live here with it empty? What if we change our minds? What if the person that gave me that “special” item finds out I gave it away?

What if by giving everything away we become freer?

Since we don’t know where we will ultimately land, we decided to store what we would be willing to pay to ship across the ocean. Then, we decided we were only willing to pay for the smallest shipping container possible.

Sorting. What would we want to see again after a year or more in storage? What did we absolutely have to have for our first few months of travel? What is worth money? What brings us joy? What is holding us back?

Purging. We sold high dollar items on eBay and craigslist. For sentimental items, it felt best to give them away to our dearest friends. We kept watch to see what our neighbors needed on the BuyNothing group; we passed along anything we could. Next, we held a festive yard sale where we played “Let’s make a deal,” and most offers were accepted. We also had a huge free pile. At the conclusion of the sale, we posted to craigslist and our neighborhood Facebook group that all leftovers were free. The remains were of course donated.

Outcome. There were moments where I saw my memories in the hands of another. It was hard to let go. Then, I saw joy in people’s eyes when they found a treasure! People shared how our stuff was going to make their new house feel like home, how their best friend would love a picture, book, or sweater, and our friends grabbed items that would remind them of us. I shared with my daughter that when I was her age, I had a rule that everything I owned would fit in my car and I could carry it myself. That rule had been broken long ago, but it is rather unbelievable how much stuff I had moved around over the past two decades and how many states it had been in. I do feel lighter today, less encumbered, and yet it is bittersweet.

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