Saturday, October 19, 2013

All You Need Is Less

I grew up in a house full of things. I never wanted for anything. I had cases of Barbie dolls, and plenty of clothes for my American Girl Doll. I had, and still have, a very comfortable life. At some point in my childhood, I started recognizing that perhaps the things I had... were a bit too many.

I remember one night, my mom boxed away about half of my Barbies, saying that I could play with one box for a few weeks, then play with the other box after that. I'm sure it was an effort to contain the mess of Barbies, and extend my interest and appreciation for each doll. I drew out my 4 favorite dolls and made sure they were put in the box that wasn't going into temporary storage, and that was the last I remember of the other box. It went into storage in the basement, and I don't recall it ever resurfacing.

This happened a lot for me. Small toys that I didn't cherish as much got put in new storage places, and started collecting dust from there. I was happy with my small box of Barbies, and my other favorite things close by.

My first real 'Spring Cleaning' was after high school graduation. I was completely emptying my room in preparation to move to Logan for school. The important things came with me to my tiny 8 X 15 foot room. The things that meant a lot to me, but wouldn't fit at school got boxed in large Rubbermaid containers and now occupy a corner of my parent's basement. The other things that didn't make the cut went to the secondhand store, or the garbage bin. The garbage bin was difficult for my mom. She saw me tossing old school assignments and tiny odds and ends and she would cry out "Not this! Don't throw this away!" and I would shrug and continue throwing things away. I'm pretty certain there's a black hole of things in the basement that my mom has secretly pulled back out of the recycle bin. I hope not, but I'm realistic.

I lived out of two large suitcases for 6 months in 2012 during the Disney College Program. I loved it. Everything I had brought with me served a purpose, and though there's lots of pictures with me wearing the same 8 shirts, I enjoyed the simplicity of life. I laughed at all the things my roommates who had driven to Florida brought with them. Stuffed animals, 30 different shirts, 10 pairs of shoes, and large cases of makeup. While there were days I was jealous of their DVD collections and cuddly blankets, I would remind myself that my bags had to be under 50 LBS to get home, and the longing would quickly go away.

I got home and readjusted to having an excess of things. It's what I do I suppose; I accumulate things out of habit, and eventually the desire to simplify and unload will come and make me eager to minimize my belongings.

I don't know what exactly has triggered my 'Spring Cleaning' this time around. It may be because I've been packing up my old roommate's things to make way for the new roommate. I alway thought Steph didn't have a lot of things compared to me, and I have been quite surprised to watch the boxes of her things pile up, and I've only really tackled the kitchen. This makes me worry how much stuff I've got crammed into this place. The largest culprit is very likely the fact that my apartment contract has been updated to expire April 30, 2014. In 6 months, I will have to pack up every single one of my belongings and drive them home to my parent's house. And then, who knows where I will put them after that.

I'm finding myself feeling unusual amounts of joy when my empty shampoo bottle makes a hollow banging noise as it hit my trash can, or when I throw away the empty box of Kleenex, or when I deem my eyeliner pencil too small to use, and it, too, drops into the trash can. I'm slowly working my way through all the stuff surrounding me, and let me tell you, minimizing my things is like my own version of therapy. Nothing is more healing than knowing the money you spend is actually being used.

Hopefully when May rolls around, the things I have in boxes will be important things that serve a purpose or make me smile at fond memories. This is my end goal. A place, and a purpose for everything.


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