Moving to paradise has not been without some regrets. I’m not talking about leaving old friends and family members – that’s the emotional side. What I’m referring to here is that process, Janet might call it my “day of reckoning,” whereby I either have to part with, or find somewhere to store-in an orderly, out-of-sight manner, the treasures of my life – those toys, tools, trophies, pictures and posters that haven’t been used for years, along with the books, clothes, shoes, boots, fishing rods, golf clubs, racquets and other miscellaneous outdoor equipment that we do use. What do I miss most about Ohio? My BASEMENT!
I knew I was in deep trouble on January 1st of this year. Out of the blue, New Year’s Day, as I nursed a headache of unknown origin, Janet declared that 2015 is the year of the “cleanse”. She thought this was a better word than “purge.” All of a sudden that feeling of dread that had been slowly gnawing away at me since I saw “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” book lying on her nightstand manifested itself in the form of a cold sweat. I took a moment to mentally run through the warning signs of a heart attack, just to make sure this wasn’t the cause, and then replied, hoping I had heard her wrong, “what?” “We are going to get this house organized this year!” I was now in the full – blown stages of a panic attack. I replied weakly, “oh.”
In my mind I am a neat, orderly, organized person, always striving to create order from chaos. In reality my attachment to material things that were once purchased, received as gifts, or won just overwhelms the space available. When we moved to Hilton Head, like many people at our stage of life, we were going to “downsize”. Unfortunately for me, downsizing doesn’t mean putting the same amount of junk in a smaller house. I miss my BASEMENT!
When we bought our 30 year-old Hilton Head house in 2008 it had no garage. This is not uncommon with older houses here on the island. The problem was, keeping our bicycles and lawn tools in the den was not going to work out long-term. We added on a small one-car garage. Our car has been in the garage exactly one time. As we continued to move our northern possessions down south one truckload at a time over the years, we went through a repeated cycle of putting “stuff” in the garage, getting sick of walking around it, and giving it away, throwing it away, or selling it. Could we not have skipped the transportation step?
I had a perfect solution all worked out – one I had employed in Ohio very successfully. I would build a shed! In Ohio I had what was possibly the only split – level shed in the State. It was very tasteful. The siding matched the house. I was sure I could do the same here in Hilton Head. I might even add some hooks on the outside for that fishing kayak I’ve been coveting. Inside I would put the bicycles, grilling equipment, and landscaping tools. Like in Ohio, I would stain it to match our house. Who could object? Ha! A quick conversation with the POA made me miss both my basement and my shed! I would either have to follow the “ask forgiveness rather than permission” plan with the POA and hope for the best, or follow Janet’s plan to streamline and organize.
After living here as full timers a year and a half, we finally filled the garage with the last of our stuff this past November. This included both personal belongings, and the records from our business. It was like a bad recurring dream! I think this is what prompted Janet to buy the book and make the resolution. We were once again literally walking around, and tripping over our past!
OK – I’m in! I am buying into “downsizing.” I will “cleanse” this year. I will build cabinets, scan records, give and throw things away. I will fondly remember how I acquired all this stuff in the first place, and then get rid of it! I will do this for myself, my marriage, and my kids – with love – but….I REALLY MISS MY BASEMENT… and MY SHED!
Here are some things I have learned in our downsizing era:
Rule 1 – Make Yourself Hate Your Old Stuff
You have to emotionally detach yourself from prized possessions. Sometimes this takes a little time. You may have to place said “gem” in a really inconvenient spot so you actually get mad at it and act on getting rid of it.
Rule 2 – Martha Stewart Trumps Bob Villa (for married men)
Downsizing can be almost unfairly one-sided and, at times, hard to understand. Storage space may one day dictate that a married couple will have to choose between Christmas candle-holders and, let’s say, a router table that is also used once per year. If you find yourself in this situation remember that the value of the candle-holders includes the assigned value of the argument, while the router table is worth only the purchase price depreciated by its age. Consider giving it to your neighbor who has a large garage so you can borrow it back in the future.
Rule 3 – Attic Storage is no Basement Replacement
Here on the island we typically have storage space above the ceiling – usually accessible by a pull – down stairway. If you think this will serve as a panacea for storing your things, guess again. Taking things up into an attic on a ladder is nothing like carrying or sliding things down a set of basement stairs. Basements in Ohio are always nice and cool. A Hilton Head attic can range from nearly freezing in the winter to about 150 degrees in August, even with the stupid attic fan running. Then there are the roaches…. I mean Palmetto bugs!
Rule 4 – The Amount of Junk will Expand to Fill the Allotted Space
Pretty much self-explanatory. Have any empty closets at your house?
Rule 5 – Don’t Save Stuff for Your Kids – They Will Hate You… Even More!
Our kids don’t want our old vinyl records. They don’t have turntables. They don’t want our CD’s either- they download their music. They don’t want our photo albums unless they are in Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest. They certainly don’t want our old clothes. They don’t want our treasures!
This is going to be an interesting 2015!