I’m not sure, but I think you have to be rich to be a minimalist. People who live in tiny houses had it all, or have it all and are trying to get rid of it.
Only rich people can afford to give away all the crud they’ve spent money on, and then have all those bookcases standing around, all of them empty except for one lone esoteric sculpture that turns out to have been done by their twelve year-old son.
I have been unnaturally involved with All My Things for the last ten years. People are starting to talk. I have donated more stuff to thrift stores than the landfills can probably hold. I alone am responsible for global warming, and the state of the environment.
It should be clear to everyone by now, that I have resolved to Stop Placing Blame on Others. I don’t know whose fault it is that I do this.
I also don’t know why I feel compelled to Get Rid of Things. I’d blame my sister if I hadn’t just stated that I’ve stopped placing blame on others. I did have to share a room with her though, and I was horrified, even as a child, at the amount of stuff she could pile up in a corner. Periodically, I’d test her memory, and take something of hers.
She never missed the item until she periodically snooped through my things and took it back. Jerk.
Another reason I constantly go through things and get rid of them, is because I’m always planning to move. I’ve lived in Vegas for eight years now, and I really hate this town.
I’ve done a careful study of many other cities and have reached the conclusion that California, particularly the central coast, or northern California, are the only places to live, regardless of earthquakes and 2012, which failed to bring the end of the world as Hollywood envisioned it. Therefore, I am preparing for the day when we can actually move back there.
The Armies of the Apocalypse will gather, check out the California beaches and roast weenies instead.
The urge to move may also be in my blood from early experiences. My dad was in the Air Force and then became an entrepreneur.
We moved a lot and got rid of a lot before each move. I also did this as a single mom, who took care of her mom. A house full of memories is hard to come by with the modern American family.
We don’t pass down a lot of stuff; for instance, no one ever left me their Smartphone from the 1950’s.
In at least three corners of the house (my next house will be round and devoid of closets) I have little piles of things that I am Going Through. I’ll start to empty a box full of odds and ends, full of resolve to get it out of the way, and then I get distracted. Usually, I am distracted by the inspiration to write about the soul-sucking experience of owning so much crud, I don’t know what to do with it.
This also serves to get me out of actually going through it.
All of this stuff isn’t merely old books, toys, records, and clothing, although there’s plenty of that. It includes papers like old deeds, insurance policies, and tiny drawings and notes that my son did when he was little. One note says he’s done his homework and is going to the market. Why on earth would I feel the need to save this?
While I can callously toss out a kitchen appliance I haven’t used in over a year, sentiment and superstition have forced me to be a slave to these little pieces of paper. I’m afraid when I’m eighty-eight years old, I’ll want to see a note my son left me fifty years before.
The only solution, which is to have six more children, thereby eliminating sentimentality, is beyond me at my age.
I have a friend who has packed up her condo and now has everything in boxes and plastic bags piled on her balcony. She’s turned her bedroom into a closet for all of her clothes, but at least she has her priorities straight.
When I visited, she invited me to use her bedroom while she took the couch, but I thought I’d have more breathing room in the empty tuna can we had on hand.
Literally, her bedroom is a closet, courtesy of Ikea, and there’s only enough room for her bed. She’s even covered the window with romantic curtains hung around the bed, so that there doesn’t appear to even be a window.
I’m claustrophobic, which is why I took the sofa; I’m more Felix than Oscar. Sharing that room with my sister years ago, cured me forever of any hoarding instinct, although it didn’t do a thing for my ‘letting go’ impulses.
Since I also lived with my mom, whose tendency to keep wadded up Kleenex around her on couches and beds, which forever barred her from committing homicide, as the police would find a wadded up Kleenex at the crime scene, and connect those dots leading to her, I compulsively straighten rugs, pictures, towels, and anything else that may be askew in a round world.
This is actually my workout routine many days: ‘For the core, bend constantly to straighten rugs, and Reach, Reach to straighten pictures, then Out, Out to hang the towels correctly.’
The world is round and there’s a reason for this; piles of clutter cannot collect in all four corners of the earth.
Why are there corners in a round world, anyway?
I’ve devised my own strategy for dealing with it.
I hide it in boxes, store the boxes in the garage, then, stow them in the car to drop off at the thrift store; eventually, after they’ve been in the car for awhile, I go through the boxes again, find treasures that I was sure I had gotten rid of, and finally, donate the rest.
I usually do this as the person at the donation spot is trying to empty the car of the boxes. I’ll frantically grab something from the box they’ve hoisted, as they’re trying to walk away. This occasionally leads to a good slap fest.
After a short time, I discover that the rescued item really is superfluous, and I start a new box. In this way, I hope to gradually empty my house of everything. This may be a losing battle; people regularly give my hubby things they don’t want any longer, and he brings them home to me, so I can proceed to put them in the giveaway pile. So efficient.
Ann Tyler wrote a novel about a woman whose house was crammed with furniture her husband had inherited from his mother. It was a tight squeeze just walking down the hallway. Every week she’d drag a piece out to the garbage cans, hoping no one would notice. I liked her so much.
I have to keep my furniture. It’s mid-century(the last one) Dania that has been in the family since I was a little girl, and regardless of inclination, I know I won’t be able to let go of it.
It suits us to a tee anyway, and just when I start to wonder if I should get something new, I remember the aristocrats who were born and died in the same bed, generation after generation. If I don’t feel enough like an aristocrat after that, I put on my smoking jacket, pour myself a sherry, and smoke a cheroot.
The Dania has become valuable, unlike me, except my furniture has a few gnawed spots. (I do too, for that matter.)
I have resigned myself to never having those gleaming, ivory surfaces in my house that are so dear to interior designers. The perfect white rose in the perfect small vase, one lone book on a nightstand, white curtains fluttering in a breeze, and the bed clothes attractively rumpled.
My bed is never attractively rumpled; there are books, pillows, laptop, coffee cups, magazines, remote control, and dog stowed all over it.
Just from a peripheral glance to my left, I see five books, a box of Kleenex, two bottles of lotion, Mentholatum, a pile of magazines, my little (overflowing ‘cause I got rid of some Stuff) trash container, a stuffed dog I got for Valentine’s Day, my day planner, a bottle of water, a few bills, pencils, pens, a notebook, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, said the King of Siam.
(The typing monitor asked if I really mean ‘tetrameter’ instead of etcetera. I guess I might use that word, if I ever get tired of the word etcetera.)
Periodically, I make a huge effort to get rid of a lot of stuff, and I succeed. But the house looks exactly the same. I don’t shop, I don’t go to yard sales, I don’t want any gifts except for cash, and no one has died and left me all their crud to deal with for at least ten years.
It all takes on a life of its own. I have sent the idea to Hollywood for a science fiction movie, and I think Stephen King could do something with it.