The Big Downsize
When we decided to embark on our big house-sitting mission we knew it would mean getting rid of almost twenty years worth of stuff, accumulated over the course of living in multiple countries and even more locations. We knew we’d have to go through our extensive book collections and weed out the ones we’d not read in years. Then there were the paintings, the various items of furniture that we’d bought after falling in love with them, including the side tables we’d brought from Bedouins in Bahrain, the cheeky curvy lady painting I’d bought in Saudi Arabia, the linens we’d gotten in Borneo… essentially we had a whole lot of stuff. And we’d decided on our epic mission just as the Marie Kondo phenomenon had kicked in, meaning that every man, woman, toddler and their dog was offloading stuff to anyone that would take it. No one wanted our stuff. And we loved our stuff, we just couldn’t justify putting it in storage for however long we’d be away. It would be far too expensive and besides, the idea of feeling obliged to keep things was a bit out of line with what we were trying to do—simplify our lives as much as possible.
In the end we compromised in gifting a bunch of pieces to the Salvation Army because we knew they’d (hopefully) go to people that would enjoy and appreciate them. A bunch of other loved pieces went to a friend of ours who’d just moved to Adelaide and all of our most prized possessions like books, paintings and mementoes that we couldn’t part with went to a small storage locker with the notion that we’ll be seeing them again some time in the next couple of years, at least in the next decade.
It’s exactly two weeks since we handed the keys back for our rental property in Normanville on South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula and I’m not quite sure how we managed to get everything done in time. It wasn’t just clearing out the house, it was dealing with the memories, giving each item the consideration it was due (Marie Kondo is kind of right) and—as Tony insisted—thanking everything so it didn’t come back as vengeful yokai… which again, is something that has been lost in translation in Marie Kondo’s show. She’s getting people to thank those things so they don’t get surly and haunt you people… serious. (Well, sort of serious. Actually I’m smiling, but Tony insists it’s all very serious.)
Later, I’ll list my detailed system for downsizing a house and belongings that you’re attached to, but for now I’ll just say there’s no truly easy way to say goodbye to things. What I can tell you that a week on, sitting on a friend’s balcony in Singapore, soaking up the humidity, that it kind of feels great to know that pretty much everything I own is in a suitcase in the next room over. It’s kind of scary and liberating at the same time. We’ll see how we feel about it all in a year!