February 28, 2017
Recently I overheard an acquaintance tell about sorting her garage. “Sort, declutter, simplify, clean out – they’re all just civilized words for an act of violence. I’m engaged in a yearly purge!”
Her description caught my imagination. For the last three months, Jay and I have been actively occupied with selling our house, the ultimate goal being to simplify our life. It sounded so clean and enlightened, to live a life uncluttered.
Reality has not been clean, simple, or tidy. We’ve lived in the same house for half our married life. Our worldly goods were collected there, along with 15 years of memories.
We sold a few items, we gave many things to our son, and we still had a houseful of belongings. Eventually we hired a U-Haul, filled it, and jettisoned it at the thrift store. The house was emptier, but required several more trips to the dump, the thrift store again, and gifting sessions to friends before becoming bare!
Just a few short weeks ago, Jay and I had completed eight months of hiking the Appalachian Trail, with all that we needed in a backpack and a box. I had naively imagined that it would be easy to go home and get rid of everything. Instead, I found myself beset with tempestuous emotions. I cried over souvenirs, books, pictures, dishes. I cried over the contents of the linen closet, for heaven’s sake!
In spite of my tears, the day to list the house finally dawned. The photographer arrived. I was happy. The house was empty, and we were so close to our goal! And suddenly, I was sitting in my son’s empty bedroom, tears pouring down my face. The problem with grief is that it often hits at very inconvenient times!
Many people talk of the joys of down-sizing. In three months, we went from 1500 square feet of possessions to a five foot closet and a car. It was painful, distressing, and traumatic. It was also liberating, freeing, exhilarating.
Today we sold our house. The purge is over.