Homecoming

According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, the average U.S. household contains 300,000 things, from paper clips to ironing boards. That statistic presented a dilemma when it came time for a move to Dubuque, Iowa, where I now work. The house I purchased was less than half the size of my former one. I realized I was going to have to get rid of a lot of “stuff.” Several weeks of sorting, two garage sales, and copious donations later, last week I managed to fit all my worldly possessions into a U-Haul cargo van driven by my son and a horse trailer pulled behind the truck of my generous friends Dan and Carmen Cooke.

In preparing for this move, I had to carefully consider each and every item I owned, deciding which items meant the most to me. I would no longer have a separate office. No storage space, except an outside shed.  Some of my favorite things that wouldn’t fit in my smaller home made their way into my new office, instead.

office.jpg

One thousand books were weeded down to less than fifty. I sold a bench, two oak shelves, my huge solid oak desk, a kitchen shelf. A cabinet. Half my wardrobe. My mother’s kitchen table that wouldn’t fit in the new house, went to my sister. I sold, donated, and left things on the curb to be carted off. I was amazed, and somewhat horrified, at the sheer amount of paper in my possession; photographs, newspaper clippings, letters, greeting cards. I spent hours, then days, sifting through stacks, boxes, totes, and a trunk. Daybooks (shorter day diaries) were burnt, journals kept. Greeting cards that were simply signed; discarded. Despite all this, much of the paper still came with me; photo albums packed into storage totes that fit under my bed, letters organized by groups; my mother, my siblings, my children, and yes, even fan letters. The childish scrawls of a niece, crayon drawings of a grandson; too precious to dispose of. The trunk in my bedroom is filled with such paper memories.

I’ve spent three days unpacking, managing to fill one room with the contents of two; my bedroom and office. The laundry area is also in this same room, but hidden behind a door in the corner. Because of what shall forever be remembered as “the great purge,” everything that remains gives me joy, makes me smile.

st. michaelThe corner across from the laundry area. Without a desk, a single cabinet and several file folder totes hold my important papers. The wonderful hanging bins are from Hobby Lobby, and serve as a receptacle for my stationery. Of course my bird/butterfly curtains and Michael the Archangel came with me.

cabinet

My mother’s cabinet. The books inside are the only survivors of the purge, outside of  favorite spiritual ones I moved to my office, and a stack of books to be read on the floor by my bed. The hand-carved clock made by my brother Bill has my favorite Bible verse inscribed on it.

chair

The cozy chair my children gave me for Christmas, where I listen to music, write, read, and journal. I’ve been known to fall asleep in this wonderful chair.

There’s a reason a big black star was drawn on one of my kitchen boxes; the coffeemaker was inside it! My daughter Rachel came over Thursday night to help me unpack the kitchen. She organized a coffee shelf and a tea corner for me. Those make me smile, too.

coffee.jpg

There’s still a lot of unpacking to do, organizing, and hanging pictures on the wall, but overall, I’m excited by how the house is coming together, and grateful for my children’s help and that of my good friends Dan and Carmen in getting here. I don’t know what I would have done without them. It was a huge amount of work.

I’ve heard it said that everyone should move once every ten years, just to clean out their possessions. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that, but downsizing to a house half the size certainly does the trick!

2 thoughts on “Homecoming

  1. jonnafromny says:

    It looks so, so nice Mary – wow. I know firsthand, how hard it is to purge clutter from your life. Especially driving 1,000 miles with a U-Haul that simply could not hold one more single item – we even sadly had to leave our piano behind.

    Little did I know I would be moving into a small, two bedroom rental house (from four bd in NY), while there are still five of us at home. (Our landlord was glad to hear our youngest three were all boys, for this to work!:-)) I decided that I simply did not wish any longer to live with clutter everywhere – much of it paper, as you said. I wanted this little house to feel spacious and peaceful, despite its smallness. People visiting have remarked on this, so I am thankful. Yours also seems to have that same feel.

    May this new house and chapter of life be full of God’s richest blessings yet to unfold. I look forward to hearing about what He will continue to do in your life.

    With a hug-
    Jonna

  2. Jean Vaux says:

    I think I’ve been saving my things (esp. books and papers) for the bigger house I’ve always wanted, knowing I’d have more space (currently have no basement). But when we added things from my parents’ big home.. ai yi yi! Now that I’m in the “downsizing” midset, I too, just want space in the space I have. So am going through the purge now, to be able to entertain and have house guests again. Before more relatives pass on….and before company staying here in two weeks – yikes! Thanks for your inspiration Mary!

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