Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Why It's Important To Move Once A Year

I am engaged in the dismantling of my life…as I’ve known it.

Preparing to move overseas, we sort through the accumulation of 28 years. That’s how long we’ve been married and amassing STUFF. Since we’ve decided not to take any furniture or appliances, and very little of the remaining extraneous items, that means –


for a limited time only

featuring everything from

cozy kitsch to convenient contraptions

FREE for the taking

So far our kids have been the happy recipients of most of our surplus. Wasn’t it convenient that our son and his new wife recently bought a house they need to fill with furniture? And that our daughter is moving into her first apartment in January and can also use a few of our favorite things? Funny how God times these circumstances!

But although it’s easy to part with these things, I must also admit the emotional drain from memories associated with them. For example, the coffee table is just wood creatively put together in a nice big (heavy!) form that’s convenient for piling on things, propping your feet, or using as almost anything except a coffee table (it has never held a ‘coffee table book’ and rarely been used decoratively, period). But oh the memories!...of playing games around it, doing craft projects at it with my daughter, and kicking back with friends with a pizza or two sitting atop it. When I called my husband to come help me haul it home from an auction, he was stunned at the sheer size of it (3’ x 5.5’) and scoffed at putting it in our small living space. But even he came to agree that it is one useful piece of furniture! And my favorite thing about it? It was old and scarred with use when I bought it, so I haven’t had to worry about messing it up!

Homes are smaller in Argentina. If the coffee table is a little big for our place here, it is definitely too big for there! So I don’t begrudge my daughter inheriting it early, and I know she’ll get many years of useful service from it. It’s not that I’ll miss the table, so much as I’ll miss what has taken place at the table over the years.

The bulk of the memories flooding back with various and sundry items involve our kids. Who aren’t kids any more, of course. But still. So it makes me happy that they are taking most of the things and will continue making memories with them.

But boy is it hard work getting rid of stuff! Just the sheer volume is overwhelming. I had always considered us fairly un-materialistic but I’m revising that thought as we wade through. It causes me to remember how well we managed with very little the year we spent in Africa. AND it makes me determined to make do with less in Argentina.

So what are we taking? Books, books, and more books. Since there are no public libraries I am taking my own library with me! With that in mind, I’ve been scouring library sales, used book stores, and the internet for books I can read and re-read. I did pare down my collection in the beginning, getting rid of anything that didn’t fall into the “might read again” category. I took almost 600 books to a used book store and another 200 to my library (all they could take as they don’t have a lot of space to store books for their semi-annual book sale fund raiser).

And we’re taking some household items. Friends in Argentina recommended we take bedding and towels. While you can get it there, the good stuff is very expensive. I’ve been tracking sales and catching deals whenever possible, stocking up on bedding (sheets, blankets and bed covers) and towels. White towels. Which may seem strange but there is a method to my madness. White can be cloroxed to stay white and white goes with anything. Which is a very good thing in Argentina as they tend use very colorful tile in the bathrooms – and where the entire bath is usually tiled, often in competing colors.

Plus I’m going to invest in a good set of pots and pans (hopefully one that will last the rest of my life) and I’ll take a few things from my current kitchen. I have a really amazing hand crank can opener. My sister gave it to me before we went to Africa six years ago and it still works as good as the day I received it. As does the way cool vegetable peeler she gave me at the same time. You know how most peelers get dull after a while? This never has! I’ll also take the silicone bake ware set Beth bought me for Christmas a couple years ago. (It’s great having a sister who buys such great gifts!)

We’re taking clothes, of course. And being the thrifty shopper that I am, Goodwill gets most of my business. Why pay big bucks for something you can get for a fraction of the cost? I’m picky and the things I buy are gently used or new. Many a time I’ve found items with the store tags still attached. It’s a joke in our family that we plan vacations around Goodwill stores J And it’s true that we have been to Goodwill stores in almost every state we’ve ever visited. But our favorite is still the one in Battle Creek, less than an hour from our house.

You can see we are getting rid of much more than we’re keeping. This is a good thing. I just wish we’d been better at keeping things pared down all along. It would have made this process of dismantling a lot easier. Now I remember why it was so easy to move back in the early years of our marriage. We moved nine times in the first nine years, and each time we moved, we went through and got rid of stuff. Of course it was easy to move! We had very little to deal with until we settled down here in Michigan 19 years ago. Let this be a lesson to you! Just make sure you move once a year!

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