I’ve recently completed my move to a new apartment. I chose a smaller, one-bedroom apartment and decided this was a good time in my life to get rid of a lot of the junk I’d accumulated over the past 20 or 30 years. This hasn’t been a trauma-free experience … I’ve found it’s difficult letting go of things, letting go of the past. But there was stuff in my back closet that I hadn’t looked at in decades, and had been blindly moving from one place to another in the years after my divorce.
I still had a large drum humidifier from my townhome days in the 1990s. I suppose a lot of this junk I’d held onto thinking that someday I might own a home again, and when I did, I could use this stuff. But would I really want a twenty-year-old humidifier if I bought a home, and what if (as is likely) I never own a home again?
Time to get rid of stuff. It started with my wedding ring which I’d been holding onto since my divorce in late 1989. What was I thinking, that I might use if I married again, or that my ex and I might patch things up again. Get rid of it. I took it to a gold coin place here in Naperville that has been around for a long while and got $80 for it.
Six boxes of quality Library of America volumes went to the Naperville Public Library. Most everything else went to Good Will: books, clothing I’d never wear again, kitchen appliances, an expensive elliptical machine, a few pieces of furniture.
This experience should, I suppose, have been liberating. I definitely feel lighter, and I love my new apartment which is full of windows and flooded with light in the mornings. And yet … I think of older people I’ve known like my grandmothers, who gave away and sold a lot of their goods in their later years. Did they feel a need to declutter, too, or is this an impulse that comes with increasing age, that as we prepare to move on to whatever passes for an afterlife we lighten our burdens and decrease our connections to the things of this life?