I'd say we're pretty typical of couples in or near retirement. We no longer need all the stuff we have, and the house is too big, and there are stairs and slippery winter driveways. I wrote about this last year in a post called Downsizing: a difference of opinion.
It took a year to get started on this very large project. I convinced Art that we should give it a shot, and we made a plan, which I talked about in Rightsizing: a paradigm shift.
So here we are, well into fall, and I am sitting in our living room in Tucson thinking about how the project went. Here's some of what happened:
- The shed at the rear of the house: Art sold a 1982 Yamaha 750 (in pieces) and a sidecar for $60 and gave away a 1981 Yamaha 650 (not running). The new owners have a happy project to occupy their rainy winters. He gave the generator to his son Jason. All other inanimate objects in the shed were given away or carted away or taken to Goodwill. The shed is now occupied by Art's Ford Ranger for the winter. The truck has a shelter!
- Under the upper deck behind the house: All the unusable wood and other items have been donated or hauled to the dump. The orphan garage door that used to be a wall sheltering the view of all the stuff from the street has been disposed of. Under the deck is an open area!
- The basement great room. Used for storage for at least the last eight years, everything has been given away to kids or to neighbors via Buy Nothing Brier (like Freecycle). The inversion table was sold for $80 to a young couple for the woman's dad, who has a bad back. The pile of things belonging to Art's son Jason was picked up on Wednesday by Jason. The three metal shelving racks are partially empty, for use by our winter tenant.
- The garage: Used for storage for the last 23 years, usable things have been put in the gravel area near our driveway with a spray-painted "FREE" sign. What wasn't taken was hauled to the dump last Tuesday. The workbench was given to Clare, our across-the-street neighbor who just bought her house.
- Inside the house and out: Buy Nothing Brier is a Facebook group with 961 members. I took pictures of each item we wanted to rehome and posted them with a comment. From inside, picture frames, kids' toys and games and dressup boxes and books and bread-making machines and comforters and fanny packs and bamboo placemats and cosmetic bags and cold therapy systems and VCR recorders and snowshoes and fold-up dollies and candlestick holders and vases and Art's grandfather's lineman's climbing gear. And on and on. Someone or several people would express an interest. The taker got their name on the item which was set out on the front porch. Of all the people who stopped and picked up something from our porch, I only met one of them. It's an efficient system, and we have the satisfaction of knowing that someone will now enjoy and use what we no longer need.
Several weeks ago I said to Art, "If I ruled the world (I say this when I know it's an attempt to control him), your side of the garage will have room for me to park my Accord this winter, so our tenant can park his car on my side."
On Tuesday of this week, I came home from coffee with a friend to this sight: My car on Art's side of the garage. For the first time since we moved to this house 23 years ago.
I told Art it was the greatest gift of love I'd ever received from him. And that is saying a lot.
I asked Art just now what he thinks about this project. He said, "It's coming along. I didn't want to do it because most of the stuff was projects that I had planned to do at a later time. And the time just slipped away. So it felt like I was abandoning my projects. But looking at it over and over, I could see that I wasn't going to have time.
"I don't think I could have done it without Penni, the decluttering coach. When I would get stymied she would say, "Do you have to do it?" And if I was still stymied, she'd say, "Well, put it aside. We'll get to that later." Not like the books and stuff that say you have to make a decision and then go do it. It was a working project. Where I could look at and think about things, and then if it was still too big a thing, take it up another day. No pressure.
"It's not done. When we got the renter for the winter, I just started putting everything away to go through next year. Take a break from it.
"I've gone through the missing part of it. I'm glad it's done."