Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Of Trash and Treasures

It's becoming obvious that we have lived in one place for quite some time. As we begin to take an objective look at our household possessions we realize that we have, set before us, the daunting task of packing for our upcoming move. More daunting, though, is the prospect of how to go about said packing. We must first prioritize what possessions will be kept, and are, hence, worthy of paying storage fees to keep; what we will pack to take with us to Italy; and what we need to unload. At this point the ballast seems heavy. We need to clear out some things.

I've never really considered myself a "consumer"; I am not one of those women who have a deep and abiding love for the action of shopping. Rather, I find it rather tedious, mostly because when I'm looking for a specific item I can't ever find it. And if I went just to browse I'd find all kinds of tempting things that I really didn't need and would later regret purchasing. So I gave up shopping as a leisure pursuit and confined myself to going to the mall only when absolutely necessary (and because I dislike the lighting, fake atmosphere, and redundancy of malls, it really must be absolutely necessary). I also try to buy whatever I need locally, supporting my neighbors when possible. Wal-Mart is never a stop on my list, I utterly refuse to give them one thin dime. But that's an entire blog topic in and of itself.

Because of this shopping reticence, it was surprising to realize just how much "stuff" we'd accumulated in our home. And it's not a cluttered house by any means. I don't have knick-knacks or objects d'arte on display (do I look like I can afford that?). No, we're rather minimalist in comparison to most people we know. And yet we've got all this stuff to go through.

Some of it came from my grandparents' house when they moved to assisted living. While I've never put out the silver-topped condiment bottles of etched glass, it was Grandma's and someday I'd like to have it replated. (I hope I will.) The antique furniture pieces are a given...they'll be stored. But what of the leather sofas? Is it better to sell them and then buy something else when we get back? Or pay to store them rather than buy new later? A conundrum. My kitchen items are staying. I'll never find another Oster Kitchen Center, that most useful of products which Oster no longer manufactures, for reasons beyond my comprehension. I use this treasure daily. It slices! It grates! It blenders! It mixes!

How I got some truly hideous sweaters that have been shoved to the back of an armoire, I don't remember. Those need to be given away. But will anyone want them? This is the other dilemma. I know the saying is that "one man's trash is another man's treasure" but I feel bad about pawning off my trash on someone else. But on the other hand, it seems wasteful to just throw it away. I must admit, though, that the ugliness of some of these things makes me think they should be burned rather than inflicted on a fellow human being.

My stuffed animal collection, hoarded and treasured from childhood is difficult to part with emotionally, despite the fact that they have languished in a box in the garage for several years, like some unanimated zoo waiting to be loosed again. Some are well-loved (ie, worn) and will be of no value to anyone but me. But are they valuable in a crate? And what of Bryan's camping gear, unused for several years now that his camping buddies have all moved away.

While four months seems like plenty of time, it's deceiving as we've procastinated far too long already and really must begin the unloading process. I think the first step will be in determining what we absolutely don't need. And then what we definitely will take (this is will be easier, as it will be mostly clothes and books). It's the in-between we're having problems with. Meanwhile, we console ourselves by not buying anything new that won't be given as gifts. Or maybe we can just make our trash someone else's treasure for Christmas. Anyone up for an ugly sweater?

copyright 2005 Valerie Schneider


Pauline said...

I know exactly how you feel Valerie! We moved to Santa Fe in 1990 with a few boxes of things - nothing else. We sold or gave away nearly everything we owned when we left Vancouver in 1987. And I am not a shopper. BUT we have a full house (much more cluttered than yours) and storage area in the garage and we face similar decisions.

Keep the camping gear? Have not camped in 10 years!! What books to keep, what to give away? Furniture - what is worth keeping? Do we ship our expensive office chairs to England? Not to mention all our business files...

I wish us both the best of luck!

Anonymous said...

Don't they have camping in Italy?

Miss Underestimator said...

Don't throw away the bear collection.

B & L said...

We will be wary if we receive sweaters from you for Christmas.