On hearing our story, some people say that they are fully prepared to get rid of everything. Others distractedly stare, thinking about the amount of stuff they have in their houses, garages and even overflowing into extra storage units. Discarding it all seems insurmountable.
We understand. We were slaves to our house and everything in it. Even our fish pond required attention when we left for weekends.
I am no stranger to getting rid of stuff. I’ve lost everything I owned to all-consuming fires twice: once while at university, and again in 2005. I don’t recommend it as a preferred method, though. Both times, I was left with only what I was wearing that day. On the other hand, it made it easier to do it again when Ivan and I decided to travel. (Except for the 15 pairs of boots and shoes. What’s a girl to do?)
Putting the house up for sale had to be the first stage in divesting of material goods. Presenting a house for sale demands a clean and simple look. Therefore, a lot of “stuff” just had to go right away. This forced us to get rid of extra furniture, boxes that had never ever been unpacked, knickknacks and anything that gave the house a personal touch.
At the point we made the decision to give up everything and travel, it was a mad dash to use staples that we had saved or stockpiled. We hardly needed to make a purchase in a year because we had so much stuff to use up. Somehow it was surprising to us that we routinely bought so much more than we ever needed.
We realized from other’s experiences, that putting things in storage would be folly. After shelling out monthly payments to store their precious stuff, nearly everyone ends up selling or discarding it years later. We established the rule that we would not keep anything we couldn’t carry with us.
We felt that a lot of our possessions could find a welcome home with friends and family. Ivan’s son, Jason, went “shopping” in our house. We made a trip to my daughter’s house in Toronto with a van packed with many items that a young lady setting up a home would find useful.
Some sound and photographic equipment and even the sports car were sold either on eBay or Craigslist. Most of our other possessions were gifted or donated.
For items that didn’t find a home with family or were not listed on internet sale sites, giving things away was a popular method. We listed some free giveaway items on our Facebook page and told others to come pick up treasured stuff specially selected for them.
We held what we called a “Reverse Costume Party”. Friends arrived in street clothes and we dressed them for the party from our extensive costume collection. About 70 friends left that evening with entire outfits, looking like complete idiots or outfitted head to toe for their next dress-up event.
We scanned photographs, documents and important papers and stored them on hard drives. Ivan set up a cloud backup system that works whenever we’re online. After converting to electronic format, some of these were trusted to family for safekeeping; others, destroyed. Even memorabilia was photographed and then passed on to family members who appreciate it, or tossed.
We haven’t found that we’ve missed much yet. If anything, we miss our super-comfortable, custom mattress. Of course, anything we do really, absolutely need, we can buy. Seriously, when was the last time you used that thing in the back of your closet?
“Have you ever noticed that their stuff is shit and your shit is stuff?” (George Carlin)