Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Downsizing or Just Letting Go?
Each year as I go through the annual orgy of spring cleaning, I promise myself that next year it will be easier. Then I make choices about what to put back on that shelf I just cleaned and what to get rid of. Some years I'm afraid that the IRS is going to think that no one person could give that much stuff to Goodwill, and decide to audit my return. So I stop giving when I reach the upper limits of what the average taxpayer in my income range donates.
I still give a lot to Goodwill, but my winnowing is different this year. Cleaning is still necessary, but has begun to feel more like an irritating burden than a regular chore that I just do. So now, I've determined that the less "stuff" I have, the easier it is to stay one step ahead of the Health Department. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a candidate for the "Hoarders" television show. But after a lifetime of slowly acquiring stemware, flatware, and other such items, their siren song has muted. Or maybe my hearing just isn't what it used to be.
Thanks to online auctions such as Ebay, I can appeal to someone else's avaricious tendencies in exchange for money to pay off the credit cards that I racked up in order to buy the stuff in the first place. And as the size of my family dwindles and they move to far-off locales, the dog doesn't really need to drink his water from a crystal goblet or lick his grain-free kibble from fine china plates.
I don't have a Chicken McNugget shaped like George Washington to sell, but the clothing I saved for the time when I'd fit into a size 5 again are also on the block. The Longaberger baskets that my group of Navy wives drooled over and held parties to afford have collected enough dust in my closet. I've decided to get the family photographs, that hide with glued edges and inked descriptions in dozens of albums, scanned and give the digital copies to the kids. But I fear that things like the black fiberboard funeral cards with their gilded lettering from the 1800's will disappear into a drawer and be lost forever. Some things take longer to let go.
Stuff has lost is glittering attraction as time becomes more precious. Even the multiple levels of my townhouse have begun to annoy me. Smaller, spare and utilitarian spaces call to me. I even fantasize about simply traveling - with no permanent abode to return to. But this is beginning to sound like a metaphor for death, this journey to a small space. So I'll pick up the dust cloth (microfiber now) for at least one more spring and keep listing my auctions until the superfluous items are gone, and I learn how to work all this stuff that is supposed to make life more streamlined.