This weekend The Fella and I rented a 12 yard dumpster and Cleaned Up. Yes, that needs to be capitalized because it was more than just “let’s empty this closet so I can make room for the new (thing I bought at Macy’s because it was on sale and the colors match what we’re doing in The New House). No, this was a serious major kick-in-the-pants cleanout of all the broken things and this-might-be-useful-one-day things so we can have a fresh start. It’s all about the household combining, folks.
When we discussed what size dumpster was needed, we both thought 12 yards was plenty generous. I mean, that’s a LOT of room for a LOT of stuff!
It was difficult for me to get going. The first 30 minutes had a lot of angst. 30 years worth of collecting of things, each one with a “I remember why (when) we got that.” had to be followed with “Do I still want that?” and “Can this be used?” and “Will it ever be useful to anyone?” Also, I’ve watched that Hoarders show enough to know how the psychologists and professional organizers tackle the mental issues behind keeping useless things. Mind you, I’m not a hoarder, but the difficulties behind the desire to keep things that have mental attachments are universal. I had to make a lot of decisions. The Fella was most helpful in that regard. He recognized what was useful and what wasn’t. He was able to see what would be a duplicate of something he had, and which one (his or mine) was in better shape or higher quality, what could be repaired and made useful (a lawnmower), and what was simply junk and needed to be pitched.
Once the rhythm got going, it was incredibly cathartic. He took one shed, I took another. He asked about this or that, and was very respectful of what I knew my sons would want, and what they wouldn’t. A few things were big question marks, and those were set aside for a later decision. The end result of it all was a dumpster that was slam full, and a back yard and 3 storage sheds cleared out, swept, and no longer an embarassment.
That backyard and those sheds were the biggest hurdle for me, the part that scared me the most about cleaning up and packing. I had NO idea what to do with them or how to start and the thought of having to do it often had me in tears, or running away and refusing to think about it. Now, I honestly feel like packing up is do-able. I truly feel like I can do one room at a time and have the whole thing done in fairly short order. Not that I *will*, mind you. Between being there, in Alabama working on The New House, and in South Carolina working on his place, there is a lot to be done and it will take a while.
But, it isn’t overwhelming anymore. There is something about someone else, who maybe doesn’t have the emotional associations, coming in and being able to say “this needs to go” and “We can fix this”. Being able to allow an objective person (who also happens to be ridiculously high energy) to kick-start the process is the best thing I could have done. And having that person be respectful about it, and able to see when I’m about to have a melt-down and declare it’s time for a break and a beer, is priceless.
At one point during the spool-up to a melt-down. I started apologizing for the mess and said it was very embarrasing. You see, I sort of have this unreasonable fantasy that my place should be looking like something from Southern Living, forgetting that even the places in Southern Living don’t look like that 99% of the time. This place looks more like people who live there enjoyed living there, and did a lot of things, had a short enough attention span that there were a lot of half-finished projects, and lacked the patience to clean up well afterward. Now, it is spanking clean with a 12 yard dumpster full of shi…I mean…stuff soon to be toted away and forever lost to history.
In fact, the process was SO cathartic, I may very well rent the dumpster again and attempt to fill it up one more time. I am not sure there is that much stuff left to discard, but I didn’t think it would get filled up the first time. Homes have been found for a lot of stuff we don’t want- patio furniture, kitchen stuff, and the like. I have 2 closets full of things I don’t use at all- I know I don’t because those closets haven’t been opened up any longer than it takes to stare at the contents and close the door back. The Fella has a couple of closets like that as well. I, however, shall not be the decision maker on his closets. But there aren’t very many closets at The New House (that was intentional) so a lot of purging and culling will need to happen if our respective properties are going to be combined.
One of the things he said while hosing off the driveway was that it is so much easier to help someone else with their stuff than it is to make a decision about your own. He’s certainly right about that. I can be at his place in South Carolina and make quick decisions about it, just like he did at mine in Georgia. That, however, is a job for some other time down the road. One place at a time is all either of us can manage right now.
But shedding a 12 yard dumpster full of useless junk was probably the best feeling I’ve had in a long, long time. There’s still a lot of work to be done. There’s still more golf clubs that any reasonable person ought to have (I’m going to offer them to My 4 Sons first), but the process is less daunting and scary now. I’ve figured out getting rid of junk isn’t the same as getting rid of the memory, or the person, or the dreams. It’s shaking off clothes that don’t fit anymore and weight that isn’t necessary, and that is a very good thing indeed.
Once the extra stuff is gotten out of the house, we can make some interior repairs and get the place on the market. It needs a few licks of fresh paint, some moldings put in (never got put back in after getting new floors….in 2014), possibly some floor refinishing (but only it if will actually help the value of the house), and that one room that used to contain a teenager de-funky-smellified (maybe just washing the curtains and mopping with Simple Green and throwing out the mattress?)…I don’t know. One thing at a time.
But I tell you what…I am sure grateful to The Fella and his high energy sensibility and compassion and understanding of what was needed. His ability to say “one of your sons might want this” and “This won’t every be repaired” and “I think you could sell this on Ebay” at the pile I would look at and panic then ignore was a real Godsend.