Where Did All This Stuff Come From?

After twenty five years in a home, it’s safe to say that there is twenty five years of accumulated stuff in said home. As I sift through this “stuff”, the memories come washing over me, complete with warm smiles and sometimes with a pang of sorrow.
I’m sifting through all of this because the DH and I are at the stages of our lives where he’s ready to slow down with his veterinary practice and I’m ready to down-size. To accomplish that, we’ve purchased property in the back woods of Tennessee. (I do mean back-woods, too, as I’ve been there more than a dozen times in the last year and I seriously doubt I could find my way to our property in the dark.) We’ve put up two small cabins—one as the “public” space and one to serve as the “private” space, namely as our bedroom. Even with the combined footage of the two cabins, it is still only a third of what we have here. My office for the past decade has been a free standing building, completely separate from the house.
I’ve been packing up my office because the DH can’t just up and leave his practice, while I can spend a week at a time in Tennessee working on the homestead. As I pack up the books I’ve accumulated over the decades, flip through files, carefully box up pictures, I’m struck by two things. The first is how much “stuff” I have. The other is how painful this really is. What goes. What gets put into boxes for a donation to Goodwill or the local library for their annual book sale. What I know I can live without and what won’t be donated. It’s painful.
The DH and I have made a good life in this home. We raised two kids here. Raised our grand-daughter until her mother could care for her. Raised puppies in this home. Brought home ribbons with those puppies and finished champions who graced our home and our lives. Our days of raising children are over. Our days of raising and showing collies to their championships will continue. But, as I find stashes of ribbons in envelopes with the dog’s call name on the front of the envelope, those memories flood me again. Whiskey—known to the AKC as C-N-D’s Southern Comfort—the memories of a dog always happy, always getting into some sort of trouble bring a smile to my face. Rose—Ch. Wych’s Safe in My Heart—the first of my blue smooth prima donas and a girl who insisted that things be done her way or they weren’t done at all. Heaven help the handler who tightened her collar in the ring because she made that handler pay for it and it didn’t matter if it was an accident. She extracted payment by refusing to use her ears and she knew EXACTLY what she was doing because she would look the handler dead in the eye and drop her ears and glare daggers. Rambo—A-N-L’s Paper Tiger—and he only has one ribbon: a first place from the 1986 Centennial Collie Club of America National Specialty Show. He died ten days after the national specialty. My heart still aches with that loss. Boots—Ch. Franchel’s Prince of Belmar—doesn’t have an envelope. He has a large manila folder with his show pictures in it, but there are no ribbons there. His ribbons have been crafted into a one of a kind wall hanging that will most definitely have a prominent space in the new home.
While sifting through the “stuff” in my office, I realized I have enough paperclips to make a chain long enough to stretch from here to the front of the DH’s office, five miles away. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but I’ve got a heck of a lot of paperclips. Do I really need that many? I’ve also found three staplers, a baker’s dozen boxes of staples, more binder clips than any sane person should possess, and I can’t make enough voodoo dolls to use up all the thumbtacks I have. Seriously…what am I doing with all that stuff? I could start my own office supply store. My teacher friends—you need binder clips? Or paper clips? Or thumbtacks? Give me a call. (We won’t discuss the five pencil boxes full of pens, colored pencils, markers, Sharpies, and mechanical pencils I have.)
Lighters…HOLY MOLY! I’ve found lighters in drawers, in boxes, on shelves…I’m not worried about any impending societal collapse and needing to make fire because honestly, I have enough lighters to start fires until the next century.
I posted a status on Facebook before I started writing this blog post that I was starting the long, drawn-out process of whittling down the possessions. And, it is a long process, because we’re not in any rush to get moved, the cabins aren’t even finished yet…but I also feel a goading, a prodding, to get this done. This evening, when I looked at the stacked totes full of the books I can’t/won’t part with, saw the bare spaces on shelves and on my desk, I felt a pang again of loss. And, even though I can see those empty spaces, there is still so much to be packed up in my office and I rather feel as if I’m re-arranging chairs on the Titanic. I know once I move the boxes out to the trailer for the trip to Tennessee in a few days, the empty spaces will hit me harder.
I just have to keep reminding myself that there is a quiet place in the woods in Tennessee waiting for me and the DH to make it our home. And, the “stuff” that used to fill the empty spaces in my office will go into making that space our home.

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