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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

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Extraction



There is a mini-dumpster in my driveway, three-quarters full of junk that Patrick and our nine-year-old hauled from our garage and attic last weekend.

I've been keeping clear of it, because I was afraid the eco-guilt would cause me to start picking stuff back out of it like a five-year-old on the night before a yard sale. With every trip they took down the stairs, I wondered if we were sending someone else's treasure to the landfill.

This morning, I had to go and peer in. Junk. About 98 per cent pure.

And we've been living with it and paying for the space to keep it all these years. As flylady says, treating our home like a landfill. If I'm not comfortable treating the landfill as a landfill, why am I any more comfortable treating my living space as one? It's crazy.

Sometimes I wonder if people like us are carrying around an unfair share of society's guilt. We've been a single car family for all but two of our twelve years together. We cloth diapered two of our three kids. We fill two recycle bins every week. There are about three pieces of furniture in this house that are less than twenty years old (and believe me, the rest are not fancy antiques). I know we are part of the problem, but are we THE problem?

This move is about downsizing and simplifying, but first and foremost, it is about restructuring. About rebuilding our financial house on bedrock instead of sand. Of unhitching our horse from behind the wagon. Of surgically reattaching the tail to the back of the dog. You get the idea. It's from the ground up.

We have gone without so many of the basics for so long while trying to attack our money problems from the top down. We put our debts ahead of the most elemental things. Health care (for us, not the kids, who have been covered by a wonderful state program that we will sadly probably not qualify for much longer). Emergency savings. Taxes. We've been living retroactively, constantly trying to catch up, never able to gain traction on today, let alone tomorrow.

Looking into that dumpster was like looking at a rotten tooth that had to be pulled. I can't believe I held onto what was hurting us for so long.

It's going to take a while; barring unforeseen developments, a few years at least. But step by step, we're going to get our house in order. The past no longer comes ahead of today.

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9 Comments:

Blogger D, J, G said...

Your moving/house selling posts have been so therapeutic for me. We're on a similar journey- purging and moving so we can buy our first home and actually feel good about it. But, your posts have been encouraging and helping me to stay on positive and hopeful side of the emotional exhaustion. So, thank you.

11:53 AM  
Blogger anndeo said...

I just cleaned out two drawers in the kitchen and want to turn a bedroom into a studio, but I have so much junk. This too big house of mine is just a storage facility... so thanks for the inspiration. I'm going to clean it all out.

2:05 PM  
Blogger cce said...

It's funny how much we think we need until we find the courage to go without. And then, it's not as hard as we thought it might be. It's almost easy.

I'm so envious of that dumpster. I'd like to purge the attic, the basement, the closets, hell, even the fridge. Happy cleaning house.

3:50 PM  
Blogger Julianne said...

Great post. I'm married to a pack rat and despite my fervent attempts to ensure that every single item goes to a resale shop, goodwill, etc... Sometimes we just have to throw things in the trash. Kudos to you for having the courage to change.

4:24 PM  
Blogger debawriter said...

That dumpster photo is a lovely symbol of moving onward and upward.

And I just discovered your blog. Where was I? But glad I did.

Deb
sandiegomomma.com

10:17 PM  
Blogger Hannah said...

Helping clean out my father-in-law's house a few years back has given me a horror of clutter. He lived alone in a three-bedroom house and yet he had accummulated so many things that he was existing in half the kitchen, one corner of the basement, a bed, and an easy chair.

I also went through the "oh my god I can't seriously be sending all this to the landfill" thing. I tried to sort as best I could but it was about 95% utter useless crap. I know how much we removed from the house because at the dump you pay by weight. It was over 11,000 pounds.

Two years later, we filled two more dumpsters when we cleared out his shed. I don't even remember anymore what that weighed.

Congratulations on peeling off those layers. You will be amazed at how much freer you feel.

6:52 AM  
Blogger CarrieNealLand said...

Oooh! I am just in the early days of the exact same thing. Gave notice on too-expensive place. Made hard choices about certain debt and money things. Selling the car....I am so glad I found your blog.
CarrieNealLand.com

1:01 PM  
Blogger HRH said...

I loved your last sentence.

10:25 PM  
Blogger jennifer h said...

Moving is always a good motivator for getting rid of things.

"If I'm not comfortable treating the landfill as a landfill, why am I any more comfortable treating my living space as one? It's crazy."

Exactly. I need to tell myself this, often.

11:38 PM  

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