Towards the end of 2010, we hit the downsizing hard. With the anticipation of moving into a much smaller apartment, we reached new levels of ruthlessness when it came to our “stuff.” We got rid of furniture, kitchen gadgets, clothes and other “stuff.” It’s both agonizing and electrifying to shed belongings. I spent a lot of time in fretful contemplation, looking at all the crap I have amassed over a lifetime. Some stuff I wanted to keep just because I’ve hauled it around with me for years. It seemed unceremonious to just dump it into the goodwill pile. But after goodwill trips, and the piles were gone, what remained was wonderful, glorious, empty space. I felt as free and light as a floating pink soap bubble. That smelled good.
Soon enough, I didn’t even remember most of the stuff that I gave away, which relieved any lingering doubt. But I have also had delayed moments of remorse. Like getting rid of a perfect summer sweater to go with fancy dresses. Yes, I only wore it once or twice a year. But that sweater had a very specific purpose. I didn’t realize that it was still useful until eight months later. So now when I go to weddings, I have to go sweaterless. Damn.
The items that were absolutely the most difficult to part with were my books. I agonized over them. I got lots of stories and great feedback from readers about books. Books are supremely difficult to let go of. But I bit that bullet. I bit it hard.
Between the two of us, we probably had about 1000 books. We got rid of 90% of them. I brought them to Powell’s and we probably made a few hundred dollars from them. Afterwards, we had more empty space. And we had fewer back breaking boxes to lug around each time we move.
But that’s not even the best part of getting rid of my books. The best part is that after getting rid of all those books, I am reading more than ever. Counter intuitive, but true and amazing! I used to have a ton of books that I fretted over not reading. Now I put titles that I want to read on hold at the Multnomah County Library, and even though I now live three counties away, they mail them to me. Opening the mailbox is like Christmas. I either have to read or renew within three weeks, so I’m motivated to crack the books and actually get through them. If I owned these books, I probably wouldn’t even start them, let alone finish them. They would probably gather dust, and I would probably feel guilty about them.
So now, we live in an enormous apartment. We have plenty of space. We have shit tons of storage. We have fricken built in bookshelves. We could go easily back to buying books. Of all potential clutter, books are maybe the least ugly and usually the smartest looking. There are plenty of books I’d like to buy. But I actually want to read them. So getting them from the library, with a looming return deadline, is perfect for me.
It hurt so much to make the final decision to get rid of my books. And turned out to be best idea ever.
I think I’m a big girl now.