As the weeks count down toward our move north to Oregon, I am faced with an unanswerable question: why in the hell did we spend so much money on so much stuff that we’re now spending so much time trying to get rid of?
Even with a house far too big for two people, there was never enough wall space for the framed posters and artwork; there were never enough display cases for the toys and tchotchkes; and there were never enough guests for all the dishes and silverware. It was like we were intentionally trying to piss off the ghost of Thorstein Veblen.
Our conundrum became clear when our real estate agent insisted that we declutter the house in preparation for showings. What? We’ve spent 14 years turning it into the house we wanted, and now we have to take everything out? To add insult to injury, once we removed our clutter, the stager brought in a bunch of other clutter; we never quite understood why our clutter was inferior to her clutter.
Unexpectedly, once the house looked a little more austere (as long as no one looked in the closets and drawers), we were intrigued. We kind of liked these Spartan surroundings, and vowed to emulate them in the new house. That required a newfound discipline in terms of redistributing what we owned. It’s a process, but we’re progressing … and processing.
The thing I hate the most: our garage looks like Spielberg filmed the last scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark there. Boxes and boxes and boxes. I’ve been haunting the local moving supply stores, not to mention cadging boxes from our local grocery store (parts of the garage have so many wine boxes, it looks like I hijacked a liquor distributor’s truck). I’m frankly tired of squeezing my way through narrow passages of boxes in constant worry about knocking, bumping, dropping, falling, or some other participle that brings back aural memories of Fibber McGee’s closet.
If that weren’t bad enough, it seems as if our stuff procreates in the night. Open a new drawer or closet that you swore you packed, and there’s more stuff in there. I worry about either ending up with too much stuff left to pack, or too many unused boxes (yeah, like that ever happens). Having the stuff-versus-box ratio come out even at the end is one of life’s unsung pleasures.
This too shall pass. Eventually we will get everything packed and then unpacked in its place in our new home in a new city. It will be a house full – but not too full – of art, music, and flowers, with a huge Douglas fir in the front and a babbling fountain in the back. The cats will adjust to their new home, and hopefully forgive us for putting them in cages for twelve hours. We will resist the temptation to fill up every inch of space.
And somewhere, Thorstein Veblen will be smiling.