My long weekend wasn’t just sad because we honored fallen family members at the cemetery. It was also somber because a dumpster full of crap came out of our house. It’s very humbling to admit that within the walls of our rustic colonial we had all this shit. It wasn’t hiding either. It was visible to the naked eye. It just didn’t seem to be a problem to me until I started to make a list of what to throw out. When you run out of ink, you realize it’s a long list.
When I was a kid we went to the dump every Saturday. My Dad brought our trash and every other battery operated old radio or Mercurachrome infested bandage. Nowadays it’s curbside pickup where you pay by the bag and get one bucket for your recyclables. The process doesn’t allow you to toss bigger items or appliances.
I give to Goodwill and Salvation Army but after several trips, I realized it was bigger than me. We were going to have to spend money to make any real headway. That’s hard for a native Yankee cheap-ass woman to admit. I made the call to rent a dumpster and we readied to say goodbye to all this in our life:
– a stand up deep freeze that was given to us by another family member. In its most recent working past, the only way we used it was to enable us to freeze 20 boxes of Girl Scout cookies at a time. It was most functional when we’d stock piled meats for the winter. At its fullest we had an ice storm and lost power for 17 days. After a few days, we tried to salvage the frozen food along with our sanity. One night was all we needed to realize we couldn’t just leave it all in the frozen ice and snow. There are large animals in these woods. So, even though it broke seven years ago, and we’ve known for two years that the utility company won’t even cart it away, we decided to throw the deep freeze into the dumpster first.
– the old carpeting from our daughter’s bedroom. We could have let the installers take it away with them but that would’ve cost an extra $50. My husband’s plan had been to cut it in three-foot strips, someday, and slowly get rid of it. I didn’t want to rush him on the project, so I tried to enjoy driving around it on my side of the garage for the last ten months. It was very therapeutic for our relationship to toss that into the dumpster.
– some old, wet drywall that was on my side of the garage. I’m not sure what project that was leftover from?
– the old dog house on the hill. Losing a pet is a process. There’s a lot of letting go. I said good-bye to the roof. My husband parted with the walls he’d insulated for Shadow. The squirrels got rid of their acorn pantry. It’s been ten years since our dog died. It was time to let go.
– the upside down rotting picnic table also on the hill. My husband built a new one to replace it: three years ago.
– The paint cans I pulled out of the cellar last spring to ‘dry out’ were added. We decided they no longer needed to decorate the back of our foundation.
– a desk chair. I’d replaced my daughter’s broken desk chair several weeks ago. Even though I found another black one, this time with a nice rush seat, we hadn’t tossed the old. It too went into the dumpster, spindle by spindle.
– more chairs. I had ventured into the cellar to see what else we could possibly purge to fill this huge dumpster?! It seemed reasonable to also toss a few of the chairs from our original kitchen set. They were well worn but sitting around an old arts & crafts table in the cellar. It was great therapy to smash them in the driveway. Gone girl!
– skis from the 80’s. I don’t think they’d even allow us on the mountain with them. I tossed in the downhill skis and 50 pound boots. I didn’t have the heart to throw away the cross country skis. Those get used in these woods. However, the boots left a lot to be desired when I realized they were starting some type of disintegration process. When we start skiing again, we can update the boots.
– coats. I’ve donated multiple coats to the Boy Scouts every recent fall that I can remember. Despite that, we seemed to have some type of coat petri dish in our basement. The dumpster ate some fleece and waterproof material. Along with them, some junior high boots. Our girls are currently in college!
– craft items. The arts and crafts table I mentioned earlier hadn’t seen a good sized project since we were all in Girl Scouts. I tossed pins, styrofoam, old spice jars, glass, glue, poster paint, clay and beads into the green monster.
– a lamp. I admitted to a bad auction bid and tossed it on the heap.
– many items worth minimal amounts that I’d “set aside” for my antique booth.
– a changing table in the basement. It had been transformed into a storage unit over the years. I decided that needed to go too. It was rickety at best, not a family piece and wouldn’t be missed.
– the Beanie Babies wouldn’t be missed either. I sent an entire zoo to its death.
By now I was willing to admit I was a large part of the problem and also threw away all my public accounting interview literature from 1988!
In my disgust with myself, I couldn’t stay in the dwindling basement any longer. I went out to the garage to blame someone else for whatever clutter was still in there. One of the most obvious items was the ten basketballs on our old bookshelf. The excess was leaving little room for our washer fluid, extra oil and snow scrapers. We all agreed the basketballs could be donated to the local teen center. After all, there were still a half dozen more in the basement I just left. Dad wanted to save those from his coaching days.
In those same years we spent a lot of time at the ballfields. My husband took pride in finding many a baseball or softball in the parking lots and surrounding areas. We had a full bucket of baseballs and a full bucket of softballs. My husband could have been recruited by Harry Potter to play quidditch as a seeker. Don’t be a snitch but I put them in the donate pile.
We walked our property, basement and garage again to seek out other things to throw away. Items past their prime or long forgotten were tossed. A bike in the woods?!, old towels and linens, broken lawn decorations, the old toy box in the garage that had moved there to hold other sports equipment – – – that’s when I screamed like I was in a horror film.
When you have an old tent that hasn’t been used in years, evidently the field mice decide they can camp out. They had been picnicking on the cardboard box until they could plan an escape from their plastic cage. Since willies had quickly grown on my arms and legs, my husband got mice duty. They ran back in the woods and the toy box was dismantled into five flat pieces for the dumpster.
I went back in the house after that and decided to look in closets and drawers to see what else could be thrown out. The dumpster was near full but I was getting my monies worth!
Items that settled into the crevices were:
- Enough playing cards to start a casino
- A curling iron from I don’t even know when…?
- An electronic facial scrubber? Did we ever even use that? It looked like it could’ve buffed the halls of M.I.T.?!
- Admittedly, some unsold toys and toy parts.
- Broken frames, notebooks and a lantern
- Penny loafers
- An old wooden file cabinet we broke into pieces
The ironic ‘piece de resistance’ also got tossed in: a tin illustrating the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life”?
My point is, if you’ve lived in a house for over 25 years, you have to purge more often than that. I am ready for a minimalist lifestyle and renewed focus on my life. I have said goodbye to all the forgotten junk. I am not ready to move out but I am ready to move on.