10. Clear out the house / clear out my life

Leaving the house(s) is a major undertaking. We considered selling both or either, but which one? The slump in the property market decided for us as we didn’t want our start date to be dependent on one or both sales. Also retaining the properties provided a little security for our return in our dotage, hopefully. With slightly different personal circumstances it also seemed wise to keep both properties for different reasons.

He has lived in his house for 11 years and, without being too sexist, it is a bloke’s house; very functional. The furniture is utilitarian but perfectly adequate, basically all the old furniture and furnishings from his previous life which his ex no longer wanted as she desired and obtained a complete makeover. With the exception of a few items which have been products of off-spring or gifts there is little to which he feels much attachment. The exceptions to this are some items of clothes but again primarily due to their functional contribution; fashion is not an issue. This was emphasised when he showed me photo of himself holding his best friend’s first baby who is now 26. I couldn’t help but exclaim that he still wears that same rugby shirt! This lack of materialism is quite refreshing and probably essential to our new lifestyle. He shows a complete disregard of the commercialisation of trends to ensure that we replace perfectly adequate items as they are no longer in vogue which is perpetuated by or actually creates much of the retail trade. An attitude I may have to develop.

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Granny’s pot

I down-sized 6 years ago and felt that I was ruthless then when getting rid of so much clutter which had been absorbed by a larger property. However, despite that clear-out my current house if full and the loft even fuller. Fortunately I don’t have a garage or no doubt that would provide a license to fill as well but there are also some items in my parents’ loft which don’t fit through my access. Some of my furniture is functional but I’m rather attached to other pieces, don’t ask me to rationalise why. I do have a lot of knickknacks or gewgaws but can tell you the story behind each, whether they were a gift and who from or whether they were a souvenir from a holiday, where and when. Some have been bought with specific money like Granny’s pot which she never saw but was purchased with a small sum I inherited from her estate.

I can look around the house now and identify quite quickly what I’d be happy to get rid of and most of those items are ones I have bought for myself to which, despite appreciating their various forms, I have no emotional or sentimental attachment. This is quite reassuring to know that there wont be too much left when I’ve finished decluttering, although probably more than I’m expecting as the previous transition illustrated.

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market stall

I will have to be equally ruthless with my clothes which bulge out of my wardrobe and overflow my drawers and that’s only 1 season’s worth; the opposite attire is stored in suitcases under the bed. It is easy to hang onto clothes when you have space to do so but I feel that I shall be able to get rid of all but those I’m taking with me, except for the opposite season’s. If we start in the ski season I will need to store a bag of summer clothes somewhere for that inevitable swap. It may be easier to take them with me as they will have less volume but if we are going to swap back for the following winter season I will need to store all the bulky winter wear somewhere during summer. I’d like to think that I can get all of one season into one piece of luggage. I managed two three-week trips to New Zealand with just a backpack, which, the second time contained a wedding outfit including shoes and bag! So I think that was probably good training and it is surprising what you can manage with or without.

I try to clear out my clothes each spring and autumn when I swap wardrobes. That time is drawing near again so it’ll be interesting see how much of a cull I can actually accomplish. I have a bit of a reputation within the family for sorting out wardrobes, both my mother’s and my sister’s, but it is so much easier when it is someone else’s belongings. From my own experience I was able to allow them, much to their relief, a ‘sentimental bag’. This is for those items, like gewgaws, which for no logical reason there is an emotional attachment. Either from an event for which it was bought, an old faithful which was worn and worn because it was comfy and you felt comfortable in yourself in the apparel or even because it was rather expensive and you probably shouldn’t have bought it but at that price and with that little wear you can’t justify getting rid of it and anyway it is a classic style so it wont date – sound familiar?

Car booting

Car booting

So the decision is made to dispose of half a house full of items. This is necessary to minimise storage costs as well as being good feng shui but also signifies letting go of a previous life and its concomitant values based around the superficiality of appearances and materialism. But I’m sure I am shallow enough for this process to be a huge struggle so I’m easing my way in gently. I’m starting in the loft. Most of the boxes and bags have been up there since I moved in over 6 years ago. If I haven’t needed them in that time do I really need to keep them? Excluding a box of my son’s favourite toys and books, his achievements and creations and the clothes I loved to see him in and returned to his back as soon as they were washed before he grew out of them, there is little else I can remember that I could justify keeping. A cursory glimpse a couple of weeks ago revealed bags of old curtains (you never know when they might be needed because there’s nothing wrong with them they are just a different size to my current windows), old cushions (again perfectly good condition, just match a long-gone sofa), old faded bedding (I cannot justify this at all as they are not even needed as dustsheets, I have another bag of those). I have also found bags of wool and remnants of material which I have kept for when my cottage industry hits full production, but that’s not going to happen in the near future and I’m already accumulating more bags of wool in the cupboard downstairs.

So I have gathered a range of things/stuff so far and plan to take them to a car boot sale in a couple of weeks. This is a new venture for me, not just selling at this event but even going to one. I have attended jumble sales and nearly new sales in the past and even helped or been instrumental in organising them but this will be my first ever car boot sale so I hope I get it right. Along with the stuff from the loft I also have a selection of hand-knitted hot water bottle covers which I churned out a few years ago and managed to sell the ‘better’ ones but am now left with the residue.2014-10-03 14.55.56 Similarly jams and chutneys which I need to get rid of before embarking on this season’s produce. I think my friends are fed up with being presented with the obligatory jar along with a bottle of wine and I have even seen a previous donation on a shelf when a new one had just been bestowed. Anything not sold can go straight to the charity shop but hopefully I will raise a little money and keep it separate to spend on something specific for this new life even if it is only a supply of hair-dye – or is that being shallow?

Jul 2013

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