Downsizing and Stuff

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Much of life has passed since my Guatemala blogs. They aren’t finished, and I would like to pick them up again…sometime. But for now, I’d like to catch up on my life because much has happened along the way.

In the beginning of February, as planned, we put our 4 bedroom home on the market. By the time the first weekend was up, we had a contract and by the beginning of March, we were starting a new chapter in our little two bedroom apartment. How does everything fit?? A year prior, the house was full of STUFF, which is the reason for the title of today’s blog. Literally, stuff.

Cal and I have been married for almost 41 years, and as late stage baby boomers, I’ve always been amazed at how, unintentionally, we fit into the demographics of our age. We accumulated in our 20’s and 30’s, aided by two 4 year (almost-) stints of living in Germany. I was delighted at all the things I could purchase while living in Europe. Not only that, but while there we did a lot of volksmarching. There were volksmarching clubs all over Europe, but especially Germany. One weekend a year, a club would sponsor a self-guided walk around their town with a distance of either 10 or 20 kilometers. There was an award for completing the walk, and they would publish a brochure giving particulars of the walk with a picture of the award. On any given weekend, there were several volksmarches to choose from. The walk was a great way to see the countryside, and the food waiting at the end was to die for. I still remember the times I tucked into a nice warm bowl of thick soup with a big fat sausage sticking out from the bowl, a hearty slice of rye bread, and a choice of home-made tortes for dessert…mmmm….but I’m digressing. The first time we were there, the awards were mainly decorative medals. By the second time, the awards morphed into plates, beer mugs, various souvenirs, often locally made. All total, we had over 100 beer mugs, countless decorative plates and other volksmarching trinkets, plus a cuckoo clock, Christmas pyramid, nutcrackers (2 of which were bar stools), other European tchotchkes, and a huge wall unit called a “schrank” to put it all in.

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Other items up for downsizing: tons of books. Crafting and scrapbooking supplies. Cal had a whole garage full of stuff. We still had kid’s toys and games. Not to mention the fact that I started saving up stuff way before I needed to for a garage sale, instead of shedding along the way.

That whole thing about your kids not wanting your stuff? That was us as well. To give our girls credit, they did take some things. My older daughter pointed out that she did not possess many of the memories that came with the purchases of items that were so special to me and I thought should be special to her, too. She was right, of course. She doesn’t need my stuff, and like many people her age, she prefers to accumulate experiences. She took the useful things ( the schrank – yay!), and our other daughter was interested in a few of the funky, off-the-wall items (the sword I bought for Cal in Turkey, for instance). Last summer we sent a U-Haul truck out to Denver to put those items in storage for them.

Which left a whole lot of stuff for a 3 day garage sale. Deciding what to give up involved a lot of soul searching on my part. It all looked great in our big, 2400 square foot house, but so much of it was representative of a past that we were finished with. Admittedly, I had to give a long hard look at some things before parting with them. There were things I’d had since I was a child. I took some pictures and said goodbye.

If you have ever had a garage sale, you know it is an exhausting business. Some stuff sold, a lot of it didn’t. We could have set everything out for more weekends if we had wanted to. We sold some things on E-bay and Marketplace. Several boxes of books went to a church book sale. Cal made 8 trips to the thrift shop in our little Camry. Lots of stuff went for free. Most of our shelving units went to an elated young person for her first apartment. Hardly anyone was interested in our awesome beer mugs.

What is so amazing, here in our little apartment, is that the rest of it fits! We were lucky to find an apartment with a large 2nd bedroom. There are boxes stacked 2/3 of the way to the ceiling along one wall. I have a suspicion that some day, I will open some of those boxes, and I won’t even want those things either. Because there is another part to this story, and I will save it for next time.

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