So, this grand adventure of chucking the suburban life and becoming urban dwellers has just one downside: Downsizing.
For 20 years, I’ve lived in a house, where I could spread out and tuck things away safely in hidey-holes where I’d remember where I put them (only that never really worked that well, truth be told). Now we’ve condensed ourselves into a space that’s approximately one-third the size of our last house.
Now, one-third is a lovely little number, in theory. Who doesn’t like to get a third of something, like a pie? Or a massive lottery jackpot? All those cute little round, bouncy numbers, .3333333. Looks kinda like a string of hearts. Or fish lips.
But while D did a heroic job of selling stuff on craigslist, we are still trying to ensure that all of the important things make it into our 1,250-square-foot apartment. Things like artwork. Beds. Clothes, and things in which to put them. Books. (We have Nooks, but while they’re lovely little marvels of space efficiency, I still must hold an actual published tome now and then or else my brain melts.) A stereo.
That’s the easy stuff.
What’s really fun is finding a home for things you’re not really sure why you have anyway:
– Six pairs of scissors? Did I dream once of starting a fourth career as a hairdresser? Or maybe a scrapbooker?
– Four sets of salt & pepper shakers. Trying not to even use salt anymore, so what the heck?
– T-shirts. Oh lord, the T-shirts. I have this thing for logo’ed T-shirts. Can give ’em up. I have all of my Vandy employee tees. Concert tees featuring singers who either haven’t been alive for years, or are living in a ranch house in an L.A. suburb waiting to reappear on a bad reality show. A bunch of tie-dyed tees from parties, rafting trips, etc., events where going back to the ’60s sounds like much fun. I think they multiply in the closet when I’m at work. I’m going to put in a nanny-cam so I can keep an eye on them. Catching randy T-shirts getting frisky with each other might make a great viral YouTube video.
The biggest difficulty was the kitchen. I love my kitchen stuff, and I had a big kitchen in the last place. Gadgets, tools, trinkets, free shot glasses emblazoned with the name of a middling liquor brand, 47 rolls of paper towels. Little glass parfait cups I’ve never used but simply had to have one Vicodin-hazed day after my last surgery. (I swear, I WILL one day layer them carefully with fruit and whipped cream and lighter-than-air cake to make a delightful, yet healthy, dessert.)
But those who know me well realize I’m a tiny bit OCD-ish. Tiny as in Mt. Everest, the Burj Dubai, the Shapley Super Cluster, the Donghai Bridge. I’m that person who puts up garage pegboard so I can hang my tools and outline them, like tiny little murder victims. So this challenge is actually fun for me in many ways.
So my stacking and collapsing and reorganizing of the apartment kitchen went pretty well. I only had to undo/redo one thing — after seriously underestimating the number of pots and pans I could live with, I ended up having to swap the cookware cabinet with the Tupperware cabinet. Sigh.
There’s actually a lot of storage space in the apartment. Much of it, unfortunately, is approximately 10 feet high. I am not 10 feet high. In fact, I am merely half that high. So the storing of little-used items requires me to get a phone book, put it on top of a stepstool, balance that on top of Chase’s crate, add two pillows, then stand on the pile and leap up, simultaneously hurling the item toward the shelf.
Somehow, in my head, this exercise will result in the item sliding smoothly into place, fully squared away and facing forward in a perfect row. However, what inevitably happens is that the item bounces sideways, flips upside-down, knocks over three cans of Scrubbing Bubbles and then flings itself down onto my nose. This in turn causes me to plunge off of the carefully constructed pillows/crate/stepstool/phone book tower, landing in a small heap of person from which issues all sorts of colorful words. And then the Scrubbing Bubbles all domino right down behind the dryer, which is somehow wedged under the hot water heater, because the Marquis de Sade designed this apartment’s laundry room.
Devoted readers will remember that we bought our last house simply because of the master closet, which was the size of Jupiter’s third moon. We solved the “less space” issue in the apartment by getting rid of a ton of clothes. I really, really was a struggle to give up that silk, green-and-purple-checked, button-front shirt with the cap sleeves that I last wore in 1997, when it was in style and I weighed 30 pounds less. But D made me.
Goodwill in Carrollton is now adding a new wing just to house the stuff we dropped off. We even sacrificed a dozen pool towels, 10 duffel bags, five lamps, eight jars of mismatched screws and bolts, and a pair of scrubs with bleach stains on the front that kinda looked like Jesus if you squinted.
So, all told, we did pretty well in the “simplify” world, and it feels great. Now I know why those Marines say that all the time.
We feel lighter, less weighed down by stuff. We helped a lot of people by giving away our stuff. We go shopping now and don’t want to buy anything. Our footprint on the world is smaller.
There may have been one or two things we just couldn’t part with, but couldn’t find a home for in our Uptown world. Like that green-and-maroon afghan my mom made that no longer matches anything we own. And my grandfather’s old tools. And 37 boxes of “Father Christmas” dishes I’ve hauled all over the nation.
So is it really cheating if we might, perhaps, somehow, accidentally have rented a tiny little storage shed?