Monday, June 27, 2011

The Day After

One of my dreams over the years has been to get a dumpster parked in my driveway. No. Really. Over the years, through the various incarnations of my life, I--and those who live with me--have acquired an embarrassment of belongings. They are stored from the apex of the attic to the bottom of the basement and tucked away under every bed and in every drawer in between.

My husband, daughter, son-in-law, son and I carried, moved, evaluated, assessed, swept, emoted, and finally, tossed what we thought was a whole bunch of stuff.  This is what the dumpster looked like right before they came to pick it up...
Pretty impressive, right? Son-in-law Tony was the muscle, toting cartons containing unopened checking account statements and final college course papers from years ago down to my pregnant daughter  for her to finally get rid of. Tony himself had some stored stuff in the attic from when they moved East from California six years ago. My husband and I pulled out boxes and clothes and cleaned closets and drawers. We teared up over sentimental stuffed animals and popped them right into the big black garbage bag as if they were yesterday's news. We were strong and motivated. We worked straight through Memorial Day weekend without so much as a picnic or parade to divert us. 

And yet, this is still what my attic still looks like: 
And my garage: 

And  my basement: 

At least this last shot shows some progress. The whole idea behind our own little Extreme Makeover - Home Edition was to start getting the basement ready to be made into an in-law apartment of sorts so that when Annie and Tony are ready to leave the city and prepare their own little nest to welcome their baby boy in October, they have a place to stay. Kind of a transition between leaving the city and moving to the country. Or, as I like to see it - a present for me. I'll get to have my new baby grandson on the premises to spoil each and every day. 

But, we still have a very long way to go. The thing I learned about myself is that I needed to prepare myself more for getting rid of stuff. It's really not just a matter of throwing stuff out - it's a process that takes some planning. Especially when you are very likely going to come upon your son's third grade journal where he explained what scares him the most. (Apparently the television show I made him watch during Saturday night "family time"!)  One of the boxes you drag out from the eaves of the attic will have a framed picture of your daughter as she stood for the first time on her grandmother's sofa,  having pulled herself up by holding on to her great-grandmothers hand-crocheted afghan. From the closet in the spare room will be a cassette tape of your step-daughter's first solo concert from college. And even though you don't even have a cassette player anymore, you will hesitate to toss it...just in case. 

Things are easy to throw out; memories are harder.  It takes time to hold the memories in your hand, turning them over and over so that they will stay safely stored in your mind and in your heart.  Yes, that takes some time. 

So we didn't get everything done in one weekend. Well, that's shocking. On the bright side,  I'll probably have to get another dumpster one of these days!

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