I haven’t written a lot lately. Events both personal and not-so-personal have left me wondering if communicating is a worthwhile pursuit. The language is betraying me. I feel as if at my best, I am making gurgling, unintelligible sounds. Things are changing rapidly and I’m on the verge of being overwhelmed.
If the stars align right, I’ll be moving within a couple of months. The prospect is daunting. It’s not so much the act of physically carrying items from one place to another—I’ll hire movers for the first time in my life—as it is going through the selection process of what is to be kept and what is to be discarded.
I’ve been in this home more than a quarter-century and when I came here from the city, I did so in a Chevy van that held all my belongings. I lived here with a wife and two step-children. It didn’t work out.
After my divorce I made this small house my own by landscaping, and putting in a small fishpond; it became a neighborhood sushi bar for great blue herons and raccoons. I uprooted greenery and planted trees to honor family and friends who passed away. I tore down walls on one floor and added walls on another. I retiled and rewired and regrouted and sanded floorboards and repainted.
Over the years, I acquired a monumental amount of stuff—much of it useless—and I suddenly realize that I’ve been outdistanced by technology. What does one do with media now considered passé? There are six hundred VHS movies and almost 800 CDs. There are DVDs and DVD players; X-Boxes; amplifiers; cassette players; large Cerwin Vega speakers once worth their weight in gold but now hardly better than firewood. I own six computers including a portable Kaypro from the 80’s. It weighs as much as a Singer sewing machine and years ago when I traveled a lot, the flight attendants gave it its own seat in business class.
I have sold a dozen musical instruments, mostly guitars of every ilk, and donated more than 1,000 books to local rehabs and libraries. Fifteen garbage bags of clothing and shoes went to the Salvation Army and Goodwill.
I have offered stuff on various electronic markets ranging from eBay to Nextdoor.com. Amazon, which somehow crashed my seller account, is now unavailable to me, and I’ve found that selling stuff on Facebook isn’t very efficient. I have given away tools and artworks and linen and an electric bass and silverware.
I have thrown away things.
Over the course of the weekend, I put bookshelves, kitchen items, chairs, gardening tools, a turkey slow-cooker, tablecloths and assorted napkins, on the street in front of the house. I’m gratified that every single item was picked up. Freecycling makes me feel like a responsible citizen.
I hesitate to lower the trapdoor to my attic. There’s stuff there too, including, maybe, a full drum set. I’m not quite ready to deal with that yet. In the large walk-in closet in the basement is a variety of sporting equipment including, for reasons unknown, hockey sticks. I have never played hockey. Ever.
The work has been hampered by the fact that I don’t feel very good. The last round of chemo seems to have unleashed a batch of unpleasant side-effects as well as a sort of chemical sadness. I bleed haphazardly and cramp up. I am not as confident as I used to be that my health will improve. This in turn has engendered a why-the-hell-bother resignation I need to resist.
I am therefor working on my newly-found danshari. I am going for minimalism because, as we all know, less is better. I will be gloriously clutter-free, with only valued and required items in my possession.
I am considering buying a Chevy van.