A sorting we will go…wondering where I have been? In a cloud of dust from all the boxes, sorting through things from my mom, my husband’s mom, my grandparents, my childhood, my husband’s childhood, my childrens’ childhoods, okay you get the point. This move will certainly be remembered as the Mother of All Moves! I finally feel as though I am crawling out of the abyss of stuff and have found the floor in some rooms. We have extended our stay one final time to May 17 to get out of here with our sanity intact (a matter of opinion). We have been working from sun up to sun down (in Alaska that is all day) every day to get this house packed. Much to my surprise this move has taken on a life all its own even though it is my fifty-sixth move. Historically I have moved boxes to the next house even if I had not opened and organized them, so physically touching each and every item has proven extremely time-consuming.
When we started this process I had approximately three thousand five hundred books in this house (my rehabilitation led me to the Nook Color), hundreds of beanie babies (what was I thinking in the early 90s), tens of thousands of photos (including the infamous “black suitcase” which has traveled through our family since the 1940s), enough office and school supplies for a few years, enough baskets and gift wrapping supplies (including gifts still in the boxes) to open a gift basket business, enough clothes to outfit a family of twenty (how many outfits can you possibly wear in a day or before you grow out of them), enough papers to sink a ship (the recycle bin has been full to the brim), and over forty houseplants. I am happy to report that I kept fewer books than I donated (I think the local bookstore may have doubled in size in the past few weeks); gave away all but a couple of houseplants; and happily shared bags and boxes and truckloads full of toys, clothes, stuffed animals, household items, dishes, furniture, appliances, computers, etc. I jokingly tell my friends that I have a “no return” policy on everything I share with them (thanks Chris, Sina, Rachel, Kay, Carl), so I hope we are still friends.
At one point I felt as though I had entered some kind of weird time warp and my head had spun out of control with a lifetime of memories. The “movie” played out in my brain, but in a very disjointed and haphazard fashion as I compiled all of our family photos and keepsakes (which represented several generations spanning over one hundred years all over the country) in one area. I’m so happy that we have completed all the sorting and now it’s just a matter of wrapping, packing, and storing. I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel now and it feels great.
We found evidence of many different types of media available during our lifetime: Disc camera, 35mm, digital, slides, 8mm movies, 110, Polaroid, video cassettes, dvds, cds, and microcassettes. We found baby shoes, baby outfits, wedding dresses, wedding rings, old coins, old dolls, greeting cards (some that never made it to the mail box), my mom’s spoon collection (hundreds of spoons collected over sixty-seven years), letters, legal documents (including funeral announcements, birth announcements, marriage certificates, birth certificates, death certificates, wills, divorce decrees), medical and dental records, x-rays (why do people keep these things, don’t the doctors have this stuff on file), footprints, hospital armbands, my Brownie dress and my husband’s Cub Scout shirt.
I have learned patience as I dilligently review the contents of each and every box, because I am always rewarded with a special keepsake. Some of the really special items we found were my mom’s genealogy (I couldn’t even remember my great grandparents’ names), photos from the 1920s and 1930s, my mother-in-law’s wedding dress (which I actually retrieved from the garbage after we found her wedding photos and realized the error), old love letters (which will remain anonymous to protect the innocent), old coins, old books from the late 1800s and early 1900s, and old address books belonging to my mom and my mother-in-law (which really helps put the puzzle together.
Our decision to simplify our life has been completely validated as a result of this entire process. I think I will experience the effects of the stuff “hangover” for a very long time and I’m thrilled to know that I will have far less stuff to clutter my space and mind and far more time to enjoy life.