Life is messy, stressful, and complicated. The older we get, the more it hits us. I think retirement comes at a great time—just when you are getting really tired of getting up every morning and putting on suits, ties, or business casual; and after you have fought that millionth traffic jam only to walk into a business meeting where everyone is at one another’s throats, you get to chuck it all and go home.
Home. It’s the place you have been jamming full of throw pillows, soccer balls, dog toys, frozen entrees and citronella candles for years. It is finally your haven. You get to stay here all day long. You can sleep in or not. You can make a really detailed grocery list. It is great.
But suddenly, you look around. Or at least we did. And my husband had an explosive burst of clarity: if we don’t start getting rid of some of this stuff that we have been shoving into closets for thirty years, our kids will hate us when we die. Well, I don’t buy that: they know who changed their poopy diapers and drove them to all of their extracurriculars all those years. Plus paid for college. But I did think that those mittens and shin guards in the front hall closet were just a bit extraneous.
So we have started getting rid of things. My husband has felt a great sense of triumph getting rid of the seventeen bags of camping equipment, basketballs, and science projects (but that volcano really worked!) in the basement. He is now turning his sights to the attic, where there is one box full of junior high lecture notes that I am sure the girls still value. They would be furious if he threw those out. I am certain of it.
What am I doing about all this? Nothing. I am thinking about it. For me, this place is full of memories. I remember the days I watched riding lessons and fell asleep. Good times. So I hate to get rid of that old riding helmet. It’s vintage, and it makes me remember that little horse-crazy kid. There is one entire bookshelf full of plays. But the older girl was a theatre major! And she was so dramatic! I am not ready to throw those in the recycling. I like having them there.
So life goes on. I look out of the windows of this old place where we had pizza nights, forgotten birthdays, arguments and all that family stuff that we all relish. So I remove certain things from the Goodwill bags behind my husband’s back.
But the day will come. Maybe I will stumble over a memory and twist my ankle. It might be the catalyst to finally divest! We will finally have the freedom to look into our golden years unencumbered! I will go on a housecleaning rampage! Apparently, this turning point happens to everyone. I may just come to it a little later than average. In the meantime, I just live in the moment. Here in this great, old, house full of stuff. Our stuff.