Getting rid of stuff

I’ve done it before.  Moving, I mean.  My parents moved around a lot when I was a kid, so I got used to paring down my possessions and deciding what was really important to me.  The things that didn’t make the cut were usually put up for sale at a yard sale, which typically preceded our moves.  And for the most part, I never looked back.  Other than the complete set of Nancy Drew novels that I sold, which I wish I’d saved to give to my niece, most things were easy to say goodbye to.

It’s harder as an adult.  I don’t have that Buddhist quality about me that makes shedding the material trappings of this life easy.  I like my stuff.  My kitchenaid mixer, all my cooking and dining accoutrement, books, etc.  It’s just stuff, but it’s stuff I’ve grown attached to over the years.  Stuff which has meaning to me.

Unfortunately, moving to another country means making decisions about what stuff to keep and what stuff to get rid of.  I can’t rationalize the expense of storage, and I can’t afford to ship everything with me.  So I’ve just spent the weekend sifting through my belongings, making hard decisions, and clearing out stuff.

Papers were the easiest to get rid of–recommendation letters from college, stuff from my days as a lawyer–it was satisfying to shred them.  Old manuscript copies were a little more painful, but necessary.  Then came the clothes.  For me, sorting through clothing is always the easiest.  If I haven’t worn it in two years, it goes to Goodwill.  As for shoes–do I really need those fancy heels that killed my feet, which I’ve only worn once?

My struggle is with books and kitchen stuff.  I had already pared down my books a couple of months ago, giving 15 bags  to one of the guys on the street who sells them on Broadway.  But there are so many more.   And that’s not including cookbooks!

I’ve decided that I will ship five boxes of stuff and the rest I will give to friends.  I’m doing a “Everything must go” party and hopefully any money raised in donations will assuage the pain of letting things go.  It’s far more important for Cinder and me to have survival money for our new journey than to hang onto martini glasses, fondue pots and sushi plates.

As I watched the sanitation guys haul away six black garbage bags of the junk I’ve managed to accumulate, I felt a strange feeling come over me.  Liberation.  I may not be Buddhist, but I’ll definitely have more space in my closet during these last months in New York.

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