By Vickie Rubin
It was 1999, the kids were 17, 15 and 12. My husband, Mitch, and I were also 19 years younger and we had one dog named Maggy. Six dogs, three children who have become adults and 18 years later, we are selling our home. Today we are signing the paperwork, formerly vacating our house so that another family with a teenager and pets can create beautiful memories. This is a story of our beloved things.
I started packing and cleaning almost one year ago but based on the last two weeks, you would never know because there was still so much stuff. I secretly wondered if there was a cosmic energy that was quickly replenishing my treasures each night.
Our friends would sneer and say you and Mitch just can’t throw anything out and you truly have “that much stuff!” My friend Ruth helped me empty the kitchen cabinets; she made three piles – keep, toss and maybe. The keeps and maybes kept growing.
I had a story about every mug – Ruth wasn’t having any of it and even though I said, “no judging!” it was a hard promise for her to keep. Ruth would say, “why are you keeping this dish, it has scratches?” and I would weave a convoluted story about how 12 years ago we bought this dish and now I couldn’t possibly get rid of it. Ruth would scoff and start negotiating to toss the next item. I am not sure who won that day, I secretly hope Ruth did but the final blow came when Mitch arrived home and protested that each mug and dish in the “maybe” pile had even more meaning.
I still believe that we are not collectors of junk, but rather hoarders of memories. We did throw out a lot, but I think most would say we did keep a lot, too. It’s a daunting task. My son and daughter-in-law may realize one day that many of the things we thought were treasures are now waiting in boxes in their basement – secretly smuggled in when I came to watch my grandson.
I wrote the above paragraphs in June and thought we would be moving into our new home at the beginning of August; it is now near the end of September. The other day I asked my husband if he missed any of our “things” that are resting comfortably in storage. He misses one item.
When Mitch was a young boy, his paternal grandfather bought him a small calendar from Disneyland. The calendar is about 6 inches tall and each day you turn the circle toward you and, voila, the date changes to the next day. Mitch has been using this calendar, as a habit and perhaps a memory to days gone by, for about 54 years. Once we moved out of the house, Mitch realized he did not know where the calendar was located, and we are both hoping that the movers put it in the drawer of his dresser to be found when we eventually get in our new home. This is the only item that Mitch misses. I miss our photo albums, but that’s about it.
It’s been an interesting journey with our so-called treasures. Mitch and I sometimes admit that we would be OK with leaving everything in storage. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” has been replaced with "out of sight, out of mind.”
I know when we finally get into our new home and are reunited with all our boxes, I will become reacquainted and once again justify the need for each item or try to pawn it off on our kids. But for right now, it’s kind of nice to disconnect from all the things that clutter our world.
Vickie Rubin, of East Amherst, feels liberated after clearing out clutter.