The number-one thing I took away from spending the day yesterday consolidating two storage lockers down to one:
I have too much crap.
It’s amazing how much stuff you accumulate when you’re the kind of person who attaches emotional significance to physical objects. I’m not a hoarder—not even close—but I’m definitely quite a fair distance along the Packrat Spectrum. I’m fine with getting rid of things. We got rid of a ton of stuff yesterday in the course of cleaning out the lockers, and I plan to get rid of more. But even so, that still leaves many boxes full of items that were important to me a long time ago but got packed away and only get looked at on the rare occasions that we have enough time to visit them and spend some time.
Which is almost never. There’s almost always something more fun to do than “Hey! Let’s go to the storage locker and poke through old musty boxes!”
It’s so easy to forget about them when they’re locked away, but as soon as I break one open and start going through it, I realize that it contains about 70-80% stuff that I don’t give a damn about anymore (if I ever did) and the remainder consists of things I’d forgotten I owned, but now that I see them, I don’t want to throw them away. It’s funny—I have a much harder time getting rid of papers and the written word than I do with other objects. Which means I have boxes full of papers—old stories, gaming character sheets from games I played in college, that sort of thing. And every single one of them brings back memories.
When I mentioned this on Facebook yesterday, an old friend with whom I have a lot in common (we’re both only children, neither of us have kids) suggested a great idea: just go once a week, pick a single box, and go through it. I had never thought of this, but I think it will work for me. The project looked so daunting when I stare at that wall of boxes (literally—we stacked them in about a ten-by-ten-foot space up to the ceiling, and they filled two rows and a few to spare), but one box a week? I can do that. She also pointed out that if I don’t deal with them, eventually somebody else will have to. And who knows who that will end up being? Most likely somebody from Dan’s family, since there aren’t many left on my side that I have contact with anymore. A sobering thought, but also a liberating one: I can do this! One box a week for a year is fifty-two boxes. That’s got to be pretty near what I’ve got in there. Even if I can manage to consolidate that to a third or a half of what’s there now, that’s significant progress.
So next week, after I recover from yesterday (and Dan recovers—he and a friend did most of the heavy lifting and toting), we’ve got a new plan! Or, as I called it when my friend who suggested it in the first place also suggested we make a promise to each other that we’ll both do it: the Sisterhood of the Traveling Crap (with “traveling” being defined as “traveling to the dump. Or the nearest Goodwill.”)