Purging in Earnest

With the car gone and less than two months until departure, it’s time for purging to start in earnest. We had a garage sale a couple weeks ago and will probably have another one before the end, but in between, the stuff can’t wait. Out it goes. It’s supposed to be a “light move”, meaning what we take now is whatever we can fit into two suitcases each. Even at only two each, that makes twelve suitcases, and we’ll probably need a caravan to get to the airport. And that doesn’t include musical instruments and a doggy. So we can really only take the essentials in our suitcases. For months now, I’ve looked around at our possessions with two questions running through my mind: Is it one of the essentials I am taking along? If not, am I willing to pay to store it for a year? More often than I’d like to admit, the answer is “NO” to both questions. Why on earth then am I keeping it in the first place? And so I purge. Or at least I am trying to. As the child of two pack-rats, collecting and keeping stuff for “just in case” is in my blood. Zeusy can be a just-in-case collector as well, mostly involving computer cables and door hardware, and so between us, we are really prepared! But kind of cluttery. I don’t like it. I hate the look of my cluttery little piles mushrooming everywhere, and the amount of work it takes to clear space for creative projects. Sometimes I catch a vision for something different. My friend Kristen, before she moved away a year ago, Boo-Hoo, kept giving stuff away. But she was giving stuff away even before they were going to leave. I think she just did it all the time and enjoyed a life unburdened by so many things. And her counters were always clear! Ahhhh.Two years ago, when I started helping my mom clear out a storage unit she could no longer pay for, I got a shock at seeing how much junk was in those boxes. Boxes of old clothes, old magazines, old kitchen wares, my grandfather’s college papers. Boxes of things that were left by my grandmother when she passed away in 1983, that stayed in my mom’s house, and that were left unsorted again for eleven years, despite my handwriting saying “sort soon” from when we’d helped my mom move. Half-empty boxes costing space, money and effort that nobody had. I am still recovering.Now that the term “storage unit” has reentered our lives as we plan to rent one for our things for the year, I am a little skittish. I am determined that nothing goes in that I wouldn’t really want to take back out again.There is a part of Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott when her friend is dying of cancer and the doctor tells Anne, “Watch her very closely now; she is showing you how to live.” What he meant was that when she came face to face with her imminent death, this friend lived the life she really wanted to and didn’t put up with the stupid entangling details of life. Our journey is nothing like the Ultimate Journey, and I don’t wish to make light of death, but I do think there is a tinge of that kind of thinking in my thoughts about possessions these days that is very healthy. I hang on to so many things for just-in-cases and what-ifs and so-as-to-impress and when-I-find-the-time. But maybe I don’t anymore want to be the kind of person who keeps an ravioli maker in the cupboard for years just because I got it once for free. There it’s been for years, in its bent box, filled with dust and pipe dreams of homemade gluten-free ravioli. I do miss ravioli, but I don’t think I need the silent insinuation that I should be making some. When it came up for review again recently, I had on my William Morris-y glasses on – Is it useful? Do I think it’s beautiful? But all I heard in answer was the voice of Garth from Wayne’s World, “Dude, it’s never gonna happen! Live in the now!” I’m finding that while the initial break is hard, the feeling of ensuing freedom is a bit addictive. I have set the ravioli maker free like a butterfly to find a home where it can truly be loved and happy!What’s that you say? You say that the ravioli maker doesn’t really have feelings? It wasn’t actually feeling neglected there on the shelf and so it doesn’t really feel free and happy now that I have let it go? Are you sure? Well, what do you know, anyway? I’ll tell myself whatever it takes to get it out the door.

5 thoughts on “Purging in Earnest

  1. May I be so bold to speak on behalf of the ravioli maker? "Who said I don't have feelings? Why, of course I do, silly! And any silent insinuation you felt was not from me! I have enjoyed being tucked away on your shelf and knowing your plans of ravioli-making. I also know that 4 children, home-schooling, mushroom making, a dear husband, book-reading, tea-partying, chickens and a dog MIGHT have made this NOT the convenient year/decade for gluten-free pasta creation. There will be another time, you know. And there will surely be another ravioli maker to be set free and find a place in your cozy kitchen. And Nespresso boy might be the one to lead the production! So, today I say thank you! Thank you for letting me have a peek into your home, and thank you for setting me free. Thank you for lightening your load for your next adventure. Blessings, the dusty Ravioli Maker"

  2. I have been purging in my house too. I just don't have space to keep things that are not being used – except for children's clothes in twelve different sizes that people have passed on to me, I mean, we will need those sometime. Anyway, it is freeing. Once I get started, I just want to throw away and give away and be free!

  3. I, too, have a ravioli maker and a pasta roller on my shelf. It is from my mom. I used to make ravioli when I lived with her TWENTY years ago. Now it has been bequeathed to me, and I look at it sentimentally, remembering the semolina flour and dusty pants of dough making and telling myself I will do it again. Soon.
    Now, the yards of fabric I have no time to sew….that's a different story.
    I think you should give yourself points for all the purging you have always had to do over the years.

  4. From your Swiss Editor-in-Chief:
    Once again you have touched a chord AND made me laugh. Just spent last Tuesday doing a major purge with my mother – as an encouragement to get her to even think about moving. I had almost all of the thoughts you recorded about that experience. Watching everything get loaded onto a recycling/junk truck and driven into the sunset was satisfying – until I turned back toward the house and thought about all the rooms we did not venture into on this purging rampage. I too am determined to live differently because of this experience.
    See you soon in Helvetia. TK

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