How to Get Rid of Stuff

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What’s a fresh start? For some it’s the opportunity to try something new or explore unknown territory. For others it might mean closing a chapter of life best left behind and starting with a clean slate. It could include learning from mistakes and trying again or leaving it all behind in the pursuit of, well, a clean break.

On December 1 we moved to Hawaii for what was to be a two-month stay.  We spent the months of October and November preparing for this move. We had everything that comes with a 2,000 sq/ft home, dog, vehicles, garage, an acre of land, and everything our eight kids had left for us to store for them. Somehow these kids were born with the assumption that anything they had ever touched was precious to us and would be carefully preserved until he or she wanted us to overnight mail the “sweats I wore to Chip’s” or “the bag of shells I picked up one time.” In other words, we had to get rid of stuff. 

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t like clutter and have been known to enter my kids’ rooms and leave with a garbage bag full of things they never missed. It is a thrill to throw out the apple cores hiding in the bathroom cupboard, the smashed sandwiches forgotten in backpacks, and the torn, stained and stinky items shoved under beds. My point is I don’t throw away items of value. In fact, when I came across the 7th-grade diary of one daughter who had written on all of two pages, she was the one who said, “burn it.”  

But we were down to two kids who were heading off to college. For our fresh start we needed to get rid of enough stuff so that what we kept could be contained in our van and a 6’x12’ enclosed trailer.

It was a steep learning curve. FB Marketplace is best for things like cars, camping gear and tools, and Craigslist is good for staying incognito. The problem with FB is that often the people buying your stuff are people you know. And for someone who prefers the anonymity of a Home Depot parking lot exchange, it’s a little out of my comfort zone to have to make small talk with the dad whose daughter was on your kid’s soccer team in 1st grade. 

My favorite things were not worth much to others. Many of them ended up in one of our 62 trips to GoodWill. Other things (old sleeping bags!) went so fast I had people telling me I was rude for not marking them “sold” quickly enough. Note to self. As moving time grew nearer we’d “throw in” an end table with the lamps, and all the house plants with the wheelbarrow. How did we have so much crap? But the day before we flew out, we shoved the last screwdriver Marty couldn’t part with into the trailer and drove up the road to park it and the van at grandma’s and grandpa’s house. 

Strangely, looking at the trailer and van full of our can’t live withouts, I had the feeling not of “Wow, we really got rid of stuff,” but of “How do we still have so much crap?”

Maybe it wasn’t a fresh start we were seeking, but more of a clean break!


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