22 Feb Selling My House-Memories, Stuff, Emotions
I’m in the process of getting my house ready to sell. So that means it’s time to go through 16 years of collected, neglected and otherwise stored ‘stuff’. It includes some of my in-laws’ possessions so there is the burden of preserving the things my children and grandchildren might want one day. I have to do the same with my ex-husband’s (now deceased) things. My feelings about those items, and my interest in what stays and what goes, are secondary to the feelings of my adult children.
I spent yesterday cleaning out the ‘utility’ closet–full of old phone cords and electronics, no longer used. Catering supplies from 20 years ago. A dozen florist shop vases, three wreath door hangers, stationary, and, on and on. It’s an emotional process–going through the collected mementos of a life. A married life that fizzled and an earlier period in time when I did different things. That life was different. It’s not a judgment or a sad assessment of the things I left behind. Just an observation.
I tried to label my feelings this morning as I was journaling. Do I feel what some people feel post-divorce or when the kids pack up and leave home? I’m not sure. There is some anticipation, a little excitement, and a smattering of fear. I literally don’t know where I’m going when the house sells. All I know is that I’m staying in this community–at least until my caregiving responsibilities are finished.
I’m trying to be ruthless in this process. Who needs 12 vases? Particularly if I move someplace without a garden? Fish-shaped plates? Out of date, no-longer-my-style purses? And, baskets? I obviously had a thing for baskets in my more domestic days.
The last move, in 1999, didn’t involve lots of shedding. I do remember that we foolishly donated all the albums to a church yard sale. We packed up a lot of things that I can let go of now. It’s time.
This move is a conscious decision to simplify my life. To downsize from a 3.5 bathroom house to something more suited to a one-person arrangement (with room for the grandkids to come visit). I want to let go of those things that threaten to take over my life. I get to think about what I want going forward and what is no longer a reflection of how I intend to live.
I grew up in a very materialistic environment-we were defined by how we looked and what we had. Other people’s judgment reigned supreme. Any emptiness could be replaced with food, clothes, shoes…. Stuff. So, it’s liberating to look around and say, “I don’t need that.” I was inspired by an article by Amy Gigi Alexander, a travel writer, who is reducing her material possessions to what she can hold in two suitcases. It blew my mind and forced me to think about how attached we are–I am—to items that often have little major significance. I’m a far way from decluttering that drastically, but I understand that the important things in life don’t fit in a box.
The last year has been a back and forth decision-making process. Sell or stay? I love this house, I love my view and the daily conversation I have with the deers; the fox who trots through occasionally. The treehouse feel I get with a house that is over 50% ceiling to floor windows. My attachment has been sentimental. And, it’s been a little fear-based as well. This is the longest I’ve lived anywhere in my adult life. Since marrying at age 22 I’ve lived in Georgia, North Carolina, New Zealand, Virginia, New York, Alabama (13 years) then back to Virginia where I was born. This time I’m moving alone. I’m making all my decisions alone, for the most part. And I’m looking at the latter part of life, which is decidedly different from the attitude I embraced at age 31 when we bought our first house.
I spent my 60th birthday in Santa Fe, last August. It was the beginning of a journey. And, as I look through my photos there are a lot of doorways and gates. I sensed things changing for me. I took steps, as I am doing now, to prepare myself for that journey–it is involving lots of letting go. And, some days I can rejoice and some days the letting is a little sad.
I’m closing the door on this phase of life and I’m confident a new door is just waiting for me to open it and walk through. I will be taking along my memories.