When my husband and I ventured west, from Wisconsin to California, we had to pare down our belongings so that everything would fit inside a five foot by eight foot U-Haul trailer, and the back of the hand-me-down Dodge Caravan that we were driving around back then.
My husband had landed a job in California, which he had to start pretty quickly. And, I was slated to be a bridesmaid in my cousin’s wedding that summer. So, he went to California six weeks ahead of me. Leaving me to deal with all of our stuff.
I was amazed at just how much STUFF we had accumulated in our three years together. When we started out, we lived in the tiniest efficiency apartment. It was basically the size of that U-Haul trailer. So, we didn’t have much. We lived meagerly because we just plain didn’t have the space (well, truthfully, we didn’t really have the money either).
In the next three years, we would move into bigger and bigger places, and accumulate more and more stuff. Our last place in Wisconsin was a modest two bedroom house. Somehow, we went from a tiny efficiency apartment to a two bedroom house, and in the meantime, had gotten enough stuff to FILL the two bedroom house. As I packed, I was thinking how does this HAPPEN? We were still living paycheck to paycheck, but look at all this STUFF.
It was embarrassing the amount of trips to Goodwill I had to make, the guy at the donation door filled my last tax receipt out for me, name and all. Also of note are the many hours I spent sifting through STUFF, deciding what would go and what would make the trek to California. Not a lot of stuff made the cut. You’d be surprised at how quickly a five by eight space fills up. I was even handing things to my mom on the day we loaded the trailer. “Here, don’t you need these great canisters? What about this awesome box fan?”
When I first arrived in California, the apartment was barely furnished. My husband had gone to IKEA and gotten a chair, an end table, some lamps and some dishes. We went out that week and got a couch, and a table and chairs, and we filled in the empty spots with the few things I lugged along. But, it was still sparse. We didn’t even have a bed for a month or so. Not very much stuff. Clean slate.
So, that is why it amazes me so much, after six years in California, how much stuff we have accumulated again. I look around our house and think of all the stuff we have purchased just in those last six years. Just in the last 3 years. Just in the last year. I want to do away with all the clutter in our house, but I find it really difficult to pare down again.
I guess I feel like I had to leave so much behind in Wisconsin (there was some stuff that it really bummed me out to see go), that now I will just keep whatever I can. Not like, Hoarders style or anything. I still donate a few boxes every couple of months of the stuff we really don’t need anymore. But, it’s weird, I look around and can point out at least a dozen things in this room that we totally don’t need, that we never use, that are still good and someone else could use them. But, let them go? That’s the hard part.
A lot of stuff goes along with kids too, new furniture, clothes, toys, books and gear. Sometimes I fear we’re giving our son the wrong message about stuff. That you need stuff, and you need a lot of stuff. We try to keep the toy buying to a minimum, but it’s hard to deny that adorable face asking, “just one more race car please” when he asks so nicely.
What is your view on STUFF? The more the merrier? Or, are you also living in clutter, scratching your head trying to remember where all this STUFF came from?