I've been cleaning our garage.
Really cleaning the garage!
And what I've decided is that through their lives, people acquire too much stuff.
It's hard to get rid of stuff. Stuff reminds you of other stuff. Or times. Or people. Or things you've always intended to do.
Or it's the kind of stuff you think might be useful.
In certain circumstances.
Which might arise.
I'm a good organizer. I know how to label a box. I know how to maximize storage. I know how to juggle a puzzle of boxes.
Around here I'm known as The Master Packer.
So I am very good a squirreling things into spaces, but this time I've exposed the contents of all cupboards and have been merciless to the Little Voice that whispers, Reconsider...it might be useful in a full moon mudslide.
No, you Widget! You get back in the Goodwill box!
Down, Widget, down!
Clearly, it's been a battle. And part of that battle has been books. My own books. Years ago I started with How I Survived Being a Girl and have continued through each of my 28 (!) books, to squirrel away 6 autographed first editions of each title. For, you know, grand kids, should they ever appear. And if they don't, for my sons to auction off for charity (or whatever) once I'm dead and gone and people think an entire series of first printing autographed Sammy Keyes hardcovers is worth something.
Thinking ahead can take up a lot of space in one's garage.
I also have foreign editions. And copies of the audio book. And random publication paraphernalia.
Anyway. Aside from Book Stuff, I've been pretty good at letting go of Other Stuff. The trouble is, that only applies to My Stuff, and a lot of the stuff in the garage is not My Stuff. It's Their Stuff. And They don't want to get rid of Their Stuff.
For example, there are two tall, cheesy speakers that go with a tall, cheesy stereo system that my son got for (basically) free at a garage sale. The woman was so excited that my son wanted her junk that she actually loaded it into her truck and delivered it to our doorstep.
"No!" I cried when I saw it, because it was clearly out of someone else's garage, and I know spider poop when I see it.
"No!" my husband cried, because it was clearly a cheesy stereo system from the 80's and couldn't possibly work and was way too big for our son's room.
"Yes!" our son told us, and proceeded to haul his spider-poop prize upstairs to his room.
The system did work (which got ample HA!s from our son) but it is cheesy, and takes up way too much room, the proof being that it's now back down to our garage where it sits waiting for its rightful owner (the dump truck)...only I'm not allowed to get rid of it. He demands that I leave His Stuff alone. "Stop trying to throw away my childhood!"
Garage-sale stereos aside, I guess it's my own darn fault that his childhood included so much stuff. Parents like to shower their kids with stuff. Stuff that they maybe didn't have. Or stuff that they really wish had been around when they were a kid.
But after a while even cool stuff starts to choke you out of your house. Not just your kids' stuff. Your stuff. The cool and the not-so-cool stuff. The useful and the mud-slide-by-moonlight stuff.
And you look around and realize--I don't need all this stuff.
I don't want all this stuff.
I just want my family and time.
If you don't manage your own stuff, people who are left to clean out your closets when you kick the bucket are gonna say, "Why'd she label this bin of bricks?" "What's with this box of buttons?" "Old curtains? Is that what these are? Why?"
And you can't pop out of the grave and explain, "Those curtains would make a FABULOUS dress, can't you see that? Haven't you ever watched Gone With The Wind? Stop! Put that back you stuff-trashing fool!"
I know I'll never make the dress. But thinking that I might gives my brain a little jolt of...someday. I like jolts of someday, because they make me feel like life will go on indefinitely.
Which it won't.
Not that I'm planning to kick the bucket anytime soon--after all, I have the final Sammy Keyes to write!--but I really need to sort my own stuff before some stuff-trashing fool comes along and does it for me.
Meanwhile, I'm done buying stuff. And if anyone wants to trade Stuff for Time, please let me know.
I'll make you a great deal.