I enter my basement and survey the job at hand. The air cool, the light dim and the concrete floor hard, the cast offs of life not yet cast away taunt me. Now in my late 50s, I have entered downsizing season with both excitement and trepidation.
Drawing from lessons learned from various decluttering TV shows, clean your house/free your mind blog posts and pinterest entries, and my own brief experience as a professional organizer, I will start with the easy. Grab a trash bag and dispose of any obvious trash. The garbage bags full of packing peanuts to donate to UPS? Take them to a UPS store. Same goes for the box already destined for Goodwill. Well, don’t take it to UPS, they don’t want it, but you know.
Find more things to donate. Maybe sell some things on eBay. Or not. Determine which cans of paint have been hanging out on the shelf in the back for longer than 5 years and take them to the place discovered two years ago that takes old paint.
But what about those boxes on the top shelf, covered in the dust from the kitchen renovation done 5 years ago? They’re so carefully labelled: Old Letters, Scrapbooks, Laura’s Artwork–4 years old. There are only two options for these. Keep. Or throw away.
I take them down and sit on the floor, surrounded by the musty smell of old cardboard. The power radiating from the contents takes my breath away.
I loved and have been loved. I have the tangible proof. Pictures lovingly drawn by the hands of my children saved proudly in boxes now gathering dust. Inviting insects? Ssh, don’t even suggest it. If I throw them away, will they think I don’t love them anymore? That I am not proud of their work?
Love letters written to me by boys and by men. Boyfriends, my husband, my father and grandfather. I was worthy of their love. See, it’s right here in black and white. If I read the letters again will I find my lost youth? Will my worth vanish if these scraps of paper are carted away to the landfill?
I know the answer to those questions and still I want to hold on.