Alright, so you already know I’m a hoarder, but I also come from a family of hoarders. It’s positively in my genes. It’s not just my parents, but my entire family: my grandparents on both sides, my sister, my brother, my aunts and uncles, great aunts and uncles, cousins…you get the picture. For someone wanting to improve their life and the environment I’ve been dealt one heck of a hand: I come from a family where they literally place their value on the amount of “stuff” they have. It’s like the stuff they have makes them who they are.
So this past weekend I had one of my nephews, Fatty, and had to drive down to my parents to pick him up after work due to various events that occurred. As I had a “cleaning fit” earlier in the week I asked my sister if she would like my behind the toilet shelving unit thingie that I had finally managed to completely clean off, and brought it down to my parents to get it out of the middle of my bedroom floor and for them to take to her when their Explorer gets out of the shop. The first words out of my mother’s mouth when she see’s this is “Don’t you need that?” My response was I cleaned it off and found stuff on there that I wasn’t using so I gave it away, repurposed it, or chucked it in some other way. The look on her face was priceless, pure horror.
Taking it one step further and revealed I was trying to declutter and learn to live by a “less is more” type of motto. My dad, being dad, simply goes “It’s not in your genes, it will never happen.” My mom on the other hand, I think her head started to spin at this point, sputters out “But that’s your stuff you can’t get rid of your stuff.” I didn’t argue back, instead I inwardly gloated for causing such a ruckus.
Growing up in Florida our house was twice the size (if not more) than the house that we moved into when we moved to Virginia in ’98. But we kept the same amount of junk (crap?) that we had in Florida. My room in Florida was huge! Instead of downsizing our oversized furniture, my mother insisted on cramming it all into (what seemed like) these tiny Virginia rooms. For many years, I thought that Virginia homes were so small and that I wanted to go back to the large stately home I grew up in. In my high school days I was definitely a snob (at least inwardly) about it. Yes part of it is my childhood perception, and the houses/rooms aren’t nearly as big as I remember them. On my last visit “back home” in July ’07 I drove past my old house and it did look smaller, but all the rooms in my grandma and Aunt’s houses still looked huge compared to the Virginia rooms.
It took me until within the last year to really realized that living with more crap than you need is no way to live, and only in the last three-four months have I really gotten brave (emotionally sound) enough to really push back on these concepts that have been forced on me my whole life and say “Hey there’s something wrong with what we’re doing.”
So the moral of my long winded story (if you're still reading) is that I’m gonna keep pushing forward on my “less is more” attempt at life (and watch my mother’s head spin in the process), and maybe just maybe one day soon I’ll be able to actually live in a smaller space and not feel like I’ve got crap overflowing from every possible crevice. I’m definitely motivated by the knowledge that overseas I’ll most likely have to share a room in a trailer. I’m definitely evaluating what stuff I use, what stuff has good memories/emotions connected with it that I want to keep (like Buddy’s—my dad’s aunt who raised him—table and box), and what stuff will be useful to have when I return from overseas (like basic kitchenware—and I mean basic: 1 bowl, 1 plate, 3 cups/mugs, etc.). Hey, at least I’m managing to still downsize. That’s the point right?