This photo was circulating at work during a 4pm collective brain freeze.
I replied to the email: “Haha. Nice! We had an AT-AT in our basement when I was growing up.”
“Past tense? What happened to it?” my co-worker responded.
“Long gone. We are not collectors.”
When I was growing up, several times a year bags of too small or little used items went to Goodwill, and it was a one way street. No funky lamps, vintage board games, or collectable salt shakers ever made it back from the thrift shops and through our door. I love my childhood home – and I don’t mean to give the impression that it was stark or austere. Not at all. It was tastefully decorated and blended antiques with modern items. However, what we didn’t have were closets, cupboards, basements, and attics crammed with STUFF.
My mother, the oldest of seven children, hadn’t saved a single toy from her childhood, let alone a dress or skirt. Everything was passed along. I greatly lamented this fact when vintage fashion came back in a big way. I knew she must have had some killer looks in the late ‘60’s. When I watch a program like “Antiques Roadshow,” I am always amazed at how many treasures are out there stored in someone’s grandfather’s attic: authentic Mayan statues, mint condition Depression era train sets, guns from the revolutionary war, ruby earrings worn by a Princess. How do families manage to hang on to things for decades, or even centuries?
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I suppose. Only this apple has gone much further. I regard my own possessions with little to no sentimentality. When I moved to Salem six years ago, I could fit all my personal belongings into my Oldsmobile sedan. Now, nearly six years later, I have grudgingly expanded. My three bedroom apartment is full of functional furniture, everyday dish sets, wearable items, limited wall hangings, and baby necessities. (Ah, and what is a baby necessity? This could be a whole separate post.) There is nary a statuette or souvenir to be seen. I spent three incredible and formative years in France, first as a student and later as a nanny and English teacher – and I have a wealth of memories, but a complete and total dearth of items purchased there.
And yet, I dream of paring down further. Could I sell the second car? At what point can I donate these baby toys? Would someone please come take that extra bed out of my basement? Should I get an e-reader and clear out my bookshelves? Could I get by with only 15 items like this guy?
Maybe I have some kind of anti-hoarding disorder. Or maybe I lack the good taste necessary to appreciate style and luxury. All I know is that if won the lottery tomorrow, there would be no mega-mansion, no yacht, no gadgets or jewelry. I would happily spend it all greedily on experiences instead: dining out, travel, concerts, and the like.
But that’s just a fantasy, of course. In the meantime, I do have a home, job, and a family. And we need chairs to sit on, beds to sleep in, clothes to wear for work and play, pots to cook in, and dishes to eat upon. Kids need toys to stimulate creativity and booster seats so they can reach the table. So, I guess I will continue in my current, and rather moderate minimalist path – accumulating as needed and purging when possible.
Do you tend to save stuff or let it go? Let me know why…