“I’m sorry, but we can’t continue on like this. We’re just no good for each other anymore — I’ve outgrown the relationship and need to move on. And it’s me… not you. Okay, maybe it’s you. But just a little.”
As the stuff in my closet stares wordlessly back at me, I know it’s time to start cleaning. I’m what some people call a “packrat”, though I prefer the term “Asset Manager” or “Valuable Stuff Collector”.
Dried flowers from Prom 1988… I’m going to make a scrapbook! Softball trophy from 1983 (to go along with the tennis trophy from 1987)…oooh… so shiny. Only slightly broken bike saddle bag…. I’m SO going to replace that zipper.
I can think of a valid reason for holding on to everything that’s piled in there, and yet there’s this new, strange part of me that’s looking to be free of the Burden Of Stuff. I was spurred on by this article that I came across in my internet wanderings (and, in fact, the whole Unclutterer website) and I suspect that when my sister talks of “spring cleaning” and “getting rid of old things” that this is something she not only routinely does, but actually enjoys. (how the two of us are even related is another whole story…). And perhaps — at least in this very specific situation — I am beginning to see that she has some wisdom in this matter.
And with that, I dove in to this project without looking back. First, I took everything that lives in my closet and moved it to my bedroom — the better to see you with, my dear! And I was AMAZED that all this crap, er, GREAT STUFF fit in that itty bitty closet. Where had it all been? Much like a clown car where the people just keep climbing out, my closet harbored more junk than even I could conceive. I hardened my heart and started dividing things out — garbage and charity.
The charity pile was difficult, but not impossible. I used the old “I haven’t worn it in two years, so I probably won’t be needing it” criteria and managed to come up with 3 full bags of shoes and clothing to donate. Between having 3-4 different sizes of clothes, and also being the type of person who’s too lazy to return things that don’t fit (and do I try things on at the store?? Oh, no.. that would take too much energy…) I’ve got plenty of stuff that hasn’t seen the light of day except when it gets moved to a new house. Of course, this now means that my running/triathlon clothing outnumbers my normal clothing at probably a 4 to 1 ratio, but hey – does that really surprise anyone?
The garbage pile? Much harder. Essentially it comes down to two categories: “stuff” and “momentos”. “Stuff” is difficult, but still in my wheelhouse. It’s the bag of trial-size doo-dads from races that I think “I might use this sometime…” or the bag of bags, even (you never know when you might need one!). I firmly believe that I’ll need it as soon as I throw it out, but I understand that I can always go out and buy it if that’s the case. And so, with a sigh of resignation knowing that I’ll one day re-purchase some of this stuff, I toss it out.
Now, the big one – “momentos”? Yup, have a hard time parting with anything like that. If there’s a memory tied to it, it breaks my heart to throw it out. The idea that I don’t need a thing to remember a special event is a completely foreign concept to me. I’ve got boxes and boxes of memories and it’s only when I sit down and go through it that I can relive times that I truly had completely forgotten about. Memory is not my strong suit – as odd as it sounds, I remember very little of my childhood – and I need these bookmarks in time to be able to go back and reread those passages of my life. And so, after I sift through those, and maybe par down an item or two, I re-pack them back up and know that in a few more years, I’ll probably be doing the same thing, and enjoying those same memories again.
My Burden Of Stuff is now lighter by at least 6 full garbage bags. Surveying everything still left in my bedroom to be organized and put away again, I know that at least I made a dent in my packrat habits. I’m not sure if I’m a cleaning/uncluttering junkie yet (okay, I am sure… hasn’t happened yet…), but perhaps there’s hope for me after all?