I realized there were at least 3 parts to our Purge Process.
The first one was the easiest. I started with my closet. I got rid of a lot of stuff! A lot of clothes and I’m even someone who purges my wardrobe once a season. In this sweep I also went through my my keepsakes boxes. I had two or three big plastic tupperware/storage containers that have come with me since college in OK. I calculated with my uncle yesterday (telling a story about something), and realized I was in college in Stillwater, OK SEVENTEEN YEARS AGO. I use to be 17. Driving the most dogged-slow-ass Chevy Blazer that I loved. With a dumbass Calvin & Hobbes pissing sticker on the back. I didn’t put it on there but I left it. Why did I leave it? I don’t know, I’m asking myself that right now.
So I was cleaning out the keepsake boxes, because Jeff and I were committed to not having a storage unit. But we knew we were going to keep some boxes at my parents (in OK) and at his brother’s (in Highland’s Ranch, CO). But we didn’t want to be mooches about it. So I was going to go through everything. Now, I can be ruthless about getting rid of things. So I was throwing away pictures, leases, home inspection reports, you know, things that you probably should keep and will regret getting rid of later. I got it down to two boxes. And in this first sweep I also went through most other rooms in the house purging things that were obvious. I look back now and think, ‘oh the easy days of no urgency, plenty of time’. Jeff also starting selling things. He was a champ with Craigslist and just was in the zone with it. He was moving things quickly and efficiently. I’d say this was around November.
The second purge was when things started to get brutal. I’m glad we gave ourselves a lot of time because this is an extremely demanding process of mind, body, and soul. I was talking with my mom about it the other day and she gave these words to it, “just having to physically lay hands and eyes on every thing”. This started in December and went into January, this second purge. It was starting to sink in. We will be living in a space of about 160 sq ft. We live in 1900 sq ft. This is when I started shrinking down the kitchen, getting rid of the things that were not going with us and weren’t necessary; setting aside some things that could be sold at out moving sale. It was during this time that sentimentality starts to lose out. I had to start looking at the things I had avoided: my books, DVDs, clothes and shoes. I have about 200 DVDs. If there’s anything I collect, its those. I really enjoy movies and owning them. I will watch all bonus material. Then I’ll watch the movie again with the director’s commentary. And then if the movie is named: Baby Boom, It’s Complicated, Something Gotta Give, The Family Stone, 30 Rock (tv shows), or Will & Grace I will watch in perpetuity. Every once in awhile Jeff will say something insane like, “You’re watching that again?!” And I respond with, “This will never not be watched.” That’s by no means the entire list but it gives you an idea. So, I love movies. I was originally planning that I could if I wanted to, keep all the cases to my DVDs and store them at one of the places (mom or Brian’s). But in the second purge, I surrendered. Very sadly, but of my own accord. Most of you know I don’t like to do things in half measures. This is usually because I like to win. I want the full prize. And in this situation I want the full benefits of surrendering to this way of life. And see what prizes I get. Just so you know: there was no conversation with myself or with Jeff where either of us said, ‘you shouldn’t have this, this is silly, you shouldn’t collect these things’. Each of us got to decide and if it was something we truly loved we would make room for it with us or store it. There’s this interesting things with purging. I saw the things that helped create my identity as well as hmmm, what’s the word. Gave me place and prestige or something? ‘Look at my collection! These are my things! I love these things! Aren’t they nice?’ And I’m okay with that. I love movies. But it was like this, ‘Emily, if, we let go of the DVD cases, can you be okay? Will you still have an identity and be able to express yourself?’ I decided, yes. But I mourned it. And I recycled all the cases! They recycle! At least in Denver. I kept about 75% of the DVDs and got rid of all the cases. Even the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings special edition cases! Still mourning. (Yes, Heather, just the cases)
Then I went through my books. I feel a lot of things about my books too. When I buy a book its generally pretty purposeful. Its like a treasure. And I often re-read books I buy. Again, the books were this thing that said to the world ‘This is who I am!’ I sold and gave away some of my treasured ones. Kept the ones that were most important and wouldn’t fill more than a box. I thought about the documentary Minimalism (streaming on Netflix), one of the guys in the movie talked about our need to have every one of every thing. That we tend to try and function vey much on our own as isolated units. And I thought, ‘Emily if you really want to put your hands on this book again you can borrow it from a library’. That helped me let it go. Or buy it on Kindle. I mourned my books too.
Jeff really got involved at this point. In January he had finished his work obligations in order to commit all of his time to whatever was left to do. He increased his selling on Craigslist. And we started selling the furniture. We, of course, had just bought custom furniture from Lazboy for the living room. Delivered April 2o16. January was also when we’d have the Moving Sale (two weeks before our departure). We decided it would be one day and 4 hours. Screw it. Blow it out in four hours. And it worked! I put up two signs and put it in Craigslist. We had the first knock at 7:50am. The last thing we sold was a camera at 12:30pm (she collected cameras “like people collect shoes”). The things people will buy and not buy are mysterious. We had people buy a mattress! Then we dragged our tired asses to Chipotle for a celebratory lunch. After that we were in the home stretch.
Now for the third purge. Whatever is a level deeper than brutal is what came next. At this point, we have had to be unmerciful with our things. It wasn’t just looking at what wasn’t needed, that was long gone. We have already gotten rid of things we LOVE. Truly love. And there was still too much. Time and exhaustion has a way of putting things into perspective. Lots of fuck-its start happening. I threw out yearbooks! This is also the time where you will almost let people steal the things you’re selling. And the cheaper things you were going to sell, you will beg people to take to just MAKE IT GO AWAY. And we’ve probably taken 15 loads to ARC or Goodwill. And recycled endless amounts of paper and plastic.
The mottoes that helped guide this months-long process:
- Keep it if it brings you joy (all the way down to the silverware!)
- Things don’t hold memories, the memories are inside you
Guess what else we decided to purge? Our house! Most of you know, we were living in a rental house the last year. But we own a house in Denver on Meade St. I’ve known for awhile that that house no longer brings me joy (uh..no.) and I was ready to move on from it. But it had seemed stupid to sell it, with rental income being such a no-brainer. But recently after a conversation with Heather I realized this house does not bring us joy. And I had tried to make this an exception because money was involved. What a surprise! (Not a surprise). What if we took the profit from this investment and invest it in something we loved? As soon as Jeff suggested we sell it, we both felt a huge weight lift. He suggested paying off my student loans and then we’d have absolutely no debt. No car, no house, no credit card. Nothin. I NEVER thought I would exist without student loans. Major possibilities started to open at just the thought of this. And then our property manager offered to buy it in a private sale, quickly. Boom.
And here’s what’s left!!