I just sold my house—it closes next Friday, barring any disasters (and god only knows disasters may still occur) I’m moving out. I’m not buying another house. I’m not renting either. Nor have I taken a lover. Yet. No. Rather, I have a few weeks house sitting and then I’m hitting the road.
To accommodate this pared back lifestyle, I have had to shed about five layers of previous lifetimes. I have lived here for 23 years. I’ve raised two kids, had two partners of some duration, watched my mother decline into Alzheimer’s disease while she lived here for two years, and I’ve had one adult child boomerang back and re-launch. I’ve had at least two roommates (never good idea for me).
We’ve had, collectively, about twenty cats, many rabbits, three dogs, half a dozen lawn mowers, four paint jobs outside, too many to count inside. One SpongeBob themed bathroom. Tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of technology—so much tech. I was an early adopter. I counted about ten iphone boxes and a half dozen old iphones in various states of repair. In the first culling of belongings, I disposed of eight hard drives, three laptops, seven monitors, miles of cables, generations of mice, and every conceivable keyboard manufactured since 1983: ergonomic, wireless, Bluetooth, light touch, typewriter-like, PS2, USB, beveled, unbeveled. Tiny. Huge. Light. Heavy and as unwieldy as your first futon.
In short, I have fully inhabited this house for 23 years. And lived well. And not so well. But it is time to let go and let god. LOL. No. LOL. Gotcha. But, my work here is done. I have come, done, conquered. So, I had an estate sale for myself last Saturday. One life is winding to a close, and another is unfolding before me. And so, here I sit on my sofa no one wants, listening to Spotify’s recommended daily allowance of curated music, on a television I sold but am keeping until Friday, pondering the value of those few belongings that remain. The remains of these days, if I may.
There’s a tabletop’s worth of various crystal drinkware. Somehow, I’ve learned that crystal drinkware is worth something and am thus loath to part with it. Ditto the embarrassingly bougie Guy Buffet print. Etsy claims it is rare and pricey. So even though I don’t like it, I still have it. It belonged to my grandmother. She had fabulous and expensive things. In the 80s. They aren’t all that fabulous in this century. And the Adderley bone china from England. The sterling.
There’s a garage full of . . . how does one even begin to describe what ends up in a garage like mine? It defies explanation: antique copper fire extinguisher, about 45 gallons of partially used paint, roof tiles, golf bags full of old clubs and spiders. One petrified Razor scooter, three unopened cans of tennis balls. No one here has played tennis in a decade. A package of a dozen golf balls, unopened. It’s been at least two decades since golf last happened.
Part of me wants to just call the junk removers, pay them and be done. But this other part of me needs to see my belongings off to their next lives. I’ve sold what I could and now I sit amidst what I couldn’t or wouldn’t. This collection of Useless Things I Still Own is no less random than the garage contents: dozens of old journals, my baby book, a scrap book full of papers from my elementary school days, including my science fair grand champion ribbon from 7th grade. A now-outlawed single-use plastic grocery bag full of matchbox cars, a large stuffed SpongeBob and SpongeBob fleece blanket, the jewelry chest my grandfather made me when I was ten, six crystal beer glasses, my camping equipment, a locking four drawer filing cabinet for client records and child custody papers. A captain’s chair. An antique side table.
Which brings me to the sub-heading topic on this blog post: Or What Are Memories Worth on Nextdoor.com? I made a tidy sum at my garage sale, and I gave away so much. I trust that whoever got what, got what they needed at the right price. The primary mission was not to make money so much as to responsibly recycle as many of my possessions as possible. Ultimately, trips to the dump were inevitable. Still, I have more than I need or want. Currently, my chosen memories and sentimental attachments are worth approximately $115/mo in storage and the untold goodwill of a couple of close friends (and my ever-generous brother), plus about $200 invested in new jumbo/durable plastic totes for said belongings, one trip to Oregon to stash my kayak, bicycle (road, not mountain), random electronic things like my wireless router and cable modem, clothes, books, kitchen things . . . stuff I won’t need in the near future.
Clearing one’s home of nearly a quarter century is no small task. When I began this essay, sitting in my mostly empty home, I was still two weeks from closing (I did not know then that we’d hit a tiny snag—one easily resolved but one that caused me some angina nonetheless). I thought my house was empty, but getting every last thing out the door was like Zeno’s Dichotomy Paradox about going halfway out the door and then half way and then half way and theoretically you could continue going halfway and never get out the door. That was my stuff—I got rid of half, then half, then half, then half . . . and it just never ended. Pamela’s Paradox.
I closed the door behind me for the final time on Saturday morning, August 13th. I felt lighter immediately, and not so much freed from the past, but free to find my own way into the future where new memories await. And that, my friends, is worth it all.