I’ve become a Pinterest whore. Now that I’ve downloaded the free mobile app, I stalk the site constantly, searching for pins like “small kitchen” and “small master bathroom” and “smallest place you can possibly live with three kids, two dogs, and 10,000 books.”
I find lots of incredible pictures, and have drawn several ideal images in my head for our dream home. Then I walk into our little gutted bungalow and think, Wow, we’ve purchased an ant colony!
Gentle reminder: Hot Firefighter Husband and I sold our perfectly sized home last November in order to downsize, both financially and philosophically, and attempt to live more minimally. We bought a 1,240 sq. ft. concrete block bungalow, and are remodeling it.
But right now it’s just four walls and a lot of dust, so we’ve been living in a 2-bedroom furnished condo. Next week, we’re moving to a beachfront house for our final month of renting. Don’t get too excited. Yes, it’s on the ocean. We may or may not fall through the rotting deck when we meander out toward the sand, and I forgot the confirm whether the place has heat. As a bonus, my mother-in-law plans to visit during that month. (Just kidding, Nonna! We can’t wait to see you! What size air mattress do you want?)
Honestly, though, the renting has been easy. We’re unencumbered by all of our crap, and I often think about how I don’t miss it at all.
Yesterday we had to rearrange stuff at the new house to make room for construction. We piled everything in the driveway, hillbilly style, and incidentally found the enormous box of refrigerated stuff we lost during the move back in November. BOO-yah! I wondered where that sausage went.
Husband insisted I go through everything and make frequent deposits into the dumpster that sat helpfully at my side. A mental paralysis ensued, and I became tortured by What Ifs. What if the Diva will want her favorite board book when she grows up? What if the children hate me for throwing away the Homer Simpson Santa Claus that sings Deck the Halls with Buddy Holly? What if I give away these bags of stuffed animals and the Pterodactyl one day demands to know the fate of the gray baby seal with lifelike whiskers? And the books! What wordsmith can throw away books? I really, really, really want to reread Keri Hulme’s The Bone People one day.
The more I saved stuff, the more I began panicking about how we will possibly squeeze our big overcrowded life into this tiny demolished house.
That’s when I had another epiphany. I’m having more epiphanies than sexual encounters these days, which bums me out. WILL SOMEBODY PLEASE COME TAKE MY KIDS FOR A FEW HOURS? Or even for 20 minutes, if you know what I mean. But I’m not complaining about the epiphanies, because they’re helping me with my 2014 happiness project and keeping my brain percolating.
So the epiphany: Listen. We can’t just throw stuff away. That’s just simple decluttering. We need to have a total lifestyle transformation. Kids toys must be limited. Christmas decorations will consist of a tree, poinsettias, and candy canes. And how many vases do I really need? We’ll keep just the number of plates and glasses we regularly use. Some lucky soul will get the Cole Haan animal print mule shoes I only wear twice a year. I must absolutely, positively, stop buying black tank tops. And as for the books – I must share them! I’ll keep my favorites, and give away the rest.
So now, every time I start worrying about where I’ll store something, I reset my train of thought until I’m instead asking myself whether I really need that item. For example:
Old me: HOLY NEPTUNE, WHERE WILL I KEEP ALL THE BEACH TOWELS?
New me: Well, we’re a family of five. We don’t need 24 beach towels.
Old me: I CANNOT POSSIBLY PART WITH THE PURPLE PAISLEY SHIRT MOM BOUGHT ME IN ITALY 29 YEARS WHICH I’VE NEVER, EVER WORN.
New me: Yes. Yes, I can. That shirt doesn’t even look good on me.
Old me: IF I DON’T HAVE WILLIAM FAULKNER AND CORMAC MCCARTHY BOOKS ON MY SHELF, PEOPLE WON’T UNDERSTAND MY DIVERSE COMPLEXITY.
New me: Fuck ’em.
The only snag I’m hitting revolves around photos – boxes and bins and folders full of photos – and the kids’ artistic endeavors. What I’m thinking of doing is renting a little storage space for a few months, and sorting through the stuff picture by picture. I can scan the pictures I like, frame the art that’s best, and pare that shit down. Do you think that will work? Say yes.
Anyway, that’s where we are mentally. Practically speaking, the house is gutted, and looks like an NCIS explosion scene. We’ve chosen our cabinets, toilets, faucets, and flooring. Can’t quite decide on countertops. I told our contractor we’d be moving in March 1, and he said, “Okay!” But it wasn’t like, “Okay, that’s fine.” It was more like, “Okay, I will take that under advisement and laugh at you during my long ride home.” Still. We are moving in March 1, dude. I’m serious.