Saying Goodbye

Our basement flooded last week. Not the whole thing, just about a third of it, and the disruption was minimal. But I had to move furniture out of the space, including two large bookcases. As I moved items from the shelves, I started setting aside the things I would simply get rid of instead of putting them back on the shelves. Eventually, I decided not to return the bookcases to their original positions, once the flood cleanup was finished. We’re not taking them with us anyway, so instead of moving them twice, I’ll just get rid of them now.

In the middle of the cleanup, AmVets called asking if we wanted to schedule a pickup. Perfect, I thought. Instead of packing all my used crap into my car and schlepping it to Goodwill, these people will come to my house and take it away! So now, I have a disposal date to aim for.

These events have pushed me down a path I’ve been reluctant to start down, even though I know I eventually must. The assessment of those items I will be taking to Portland, those items I’ll put in storage, and those I’ll get rid of has begun. For some things, like the piano and our bed, the decision has long been made. But now we are getting into the nitty gritty, the books and pots and pans, the planters and canisters, decor. Some of it holds sentimental value, like the set of mixing bowls given to me when I had just given birth to my first child. They won’t match the kitchen I’m moving into, but can I really get rid of them?

I can hear Tim’s voice now saying, “…honey…” in a warning voice. Yes, Tim.

I have to get rid of some of it. A lot of it. Arcane books on the origins of language, board games we barely played, decorative spheres, planters–almost all of my planters–since there will be no place to put them in our new place. My husband’s tools have to go, too, and our snow blower. Most of the furniture we are currently using will not be coming with us to Portland, since most of it was yardsale/thriftshop purchases in the first place. Not worth the cost of moving it. As Tim has pointed out, we can buy new things for less than the price of moving these. I’m totally cool with that, since I’ve never once had the opportunity to pick out a new sofa. Everything we’ve used has been given to us, except for the sectional we got on Craigslist for the kids to use and abuse in the basement of the last house.

There are items I will be getting rid of despite the fact that they might still be in good shape. My garden wagon, for instance. Most of my garden tools. The teak patio furniture–a loveseat and table–on which I’ve spent many blissful hours in the sun after toiling in the dirt.  And clothes–most of what Tim left behind will be discarded, with a few exceptions. Truly, what I’m living with here is temporary.

Do I *really* need the broken bongos and the tone drum the kids have had since they were small?

But there’s an awful lot of stuff I’m going to simply have to say goodbye to, pieces that have populated my life for the last 14 years, touchstones for things that happened along the way. Good events and bad are cataloged in these things, and the process of sorting them for disposal will be arduous. Each object holds some kind of memory, and each memory needs to be unfolded and examined in order to figure out whether I *need* to keep it.

Tim has helped me learn to come untethered from objects. His attitude about “stuff” is so much healthier than the one I was raised with, and I’ve tried to be more like him instead of following my family’s pack-rat habits. But this move is different from the normal accrual of junk. I have no choice this time–I *have* to whittle the objects in our lives down to the size of a smallish storage locker. Emotionally, for someone like me, who has a very Irish habit of holding onto unnecessary baggage, this is a serious challenge.

So I’m starting to say goodbye. This is but one step in this process. The other steps are saying goodbye to the places I’ve known and loved, and then–finally–to the people. These steps increase in difficulty, like video games. I will level up. Right now, in mid-March, I am starting the long goodbye.

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