- We shuffled so much furniture up and down the hall we could have moved house three times over
- My back hurts
- The only way we can make this work is with a $10,000 kitchen re-fit (still cheaper than moving house)
- No, really, my back is killing me
- Everybody has more floorspace to play with and that makes us all happier people
- This is only possible because I got rid of so much Stuff.
Stuff has always been a big part of my life. I am the daughter of not one but two hoarders.
My mum was a hoarder of the worst and most public kind. We grew up in a sea of old bank statements, mending baskets, broken toys, ripped books; unused paper Christmas napkins kept from years past, even though she bought new sets every year anyway.
My dad likes to pretend he isn't a hoarder but he only gets away with that because he has a shed the size of our entire family home in which to hoard things outside the house (also, because he is a carpenter he has built secret double bookshelves so he actually hoards twice as many as the million books you can see in his room).
I like to pretend I'm not a hoarder but I so am. I engage in bulimic housekeeping, binging and purging compulsively, but somehow the binges always seem to win.
This weekend, however, I think I had an epiphany that might make the purges more effective in future.
Here it is: Stuff is not People.
Obvious, I know, but I realised that so much of my Stuff - especially the clunky, can't be dealt with, pack it back in the box and stick it on the high shelf clutter - is being kept because it is somehow linked to a person and usually to someone I loved.
Exhibit A - My mum's old Kenwood Mixer, in perfect working order but no bowl. It has been taking up a large box and a vital half metre square of floor space since Dad gave it to me after Mum died two years ago because that was not Any Old Mixer. That was the mixer that made most of our birthday cakes, pikelets, pavlovas, brownie slices and my favourite soggy banana cake. That was the mixer Mum used when she first started milking a house cow and decided to make butter with spectacular effects on the first go; you can still see the stains on the ceiling. I couldn't guess how many times we got to choose who would lick the beaters, who the spoon and who the bowl. But the bowl is gone and while I could have ordered another, or bought one at an exorbitant rate on eBay, I know I never will. I have my own food processor (actually, two, one big and one small -yikes) and my own version of beater/bowl/spoon with my own kids, and so I gave it to the Salvos on Saturday.
Exhibit B - A rather beautifully shaped pottery tea set, made by my first husband's aunt for our wedding present a million years ago. I don't drink tea, and on the rare occasions I do drink it, I drink it in a mug, not a cup, and I make it with a tea bag, not a teapot. This tea set has been hogging shelf space since 1991 when admittedly, my pompous ex-husband used to bring it out and drink from it just because it was there, even though he too was a coffee drinker. Why was I keeping it? Well, I liked him once, and I liked his family more although I'm pretty sure his aunt didn't make this set specifically for us but rather sent us one she couldn't sell in her gallery because the tea pot was a slightly different colour to the cups... to the Salvos it went too.
So: Stuff is not People. Keeping a broken Kenwood mixer, even fixing it, will not bring my mother back. Her memory is not in the tools she used to make the cakes, it's in the fact that we always had a party for our birthdays, no matter what. And keeping an unused tea set for fear of offending ex-in-laws is just plain stoopid, end of story.
Stuff is not People, and sometimes (Exhibit C - the ex-husband) even people aren't People. But at the Salvos shop around the corner there are real People who can sell my Stuff and use the money to help other real People, so it looks like it was an epiphany worth having.
Anyway, getting back to my first thought: with Stuff, as well as with People, there's always more to come.