The Unbearable Lightness of Decluttering
Hey, it’s Charlotte here again, and I’m going to talk about Getting Rid of Stuff. When I tell people that we are going away, most of them ask, what about your house? What about your things? I’ve been airily answering this question by saying, oh, I’m just going to get rid of most of my stuff. Also the question of my house was (supposed to be) straightforward. Currently I’m renting in a house-share in Hove with some lovely people, and this was going to continue being the case up until the end of October when my tenancy ended, conveniently the day before we leave the country. But of course, things didn’t turn out to be that simple! One day mid-June I was greeted in the morning by a letter from the landlord on the front door mat, notifying us that they would like to move back in themselves at the end of July. Suddenly, this vague future event where I had to sort out all my stuff has become a thing which I need to do right away – cue the panic! (Incidentally, I’m not going to be homeless, my lovely boyfriend and his awesome best friend have come to the rescue and I’ll be moving in with them in a week’s time!)
You guys…it turns out that getting rid of stuff is HARD. I’ve happily been talking about downsizing and decluttering, how it will be nice to not have so many possessions but damn, I really wasn’t expecting it to be this tough. I should point out here that I don’t have to get rid of my things, it is a choice that I have made myself…my parents have both let me know that I can store stuff at their houses while I’m away so I am quite lucky in that regard. But this is something that I do want to do, I don’t want to be swamped by my own possessions. So here I am, writing this sitting on my bedroom floor amid what can only be described as chaos. Every time I move I forget just how much stuff I have. I find moving really stressful (as I am sure most of us do) and I think a lot of it is because of the sheer amount of belongings that I have. Also, I’ve lived in Brighton for 11 years now, and I’m about to move into my 11th different address, which is ridiculous.
I’ve been trying very hard to be objective and think about whether I really need each object, and mostly it’s been a clear choice. Do I want an old pop-up tent or do I want an extra fiver for the travel fund? Do I want an unworn pair of roller skates, when selling them will pay for a couple of days food and board in India? Why do I even have three broken cameras?? My phone has been pinging constantly with replies to my 20 (yes 20!) Gumtree ads, and I have to admit that the small amounts of money here and there that my belongings are bringing in does make the whole process a bit more bearable! And I like to think that they are going to new homes where they will be used and enjoyed, rather than sitting in a box under my mum’s bed for the next year. I’ve also got boxes of clothes and kitchen stuff to donate to the charity shop. Of course there is stuff I’d be mad to part with, and there definitely will be a couple of boxes of important and sentimental bits and bobs winging their way down to Somerset for safekeeping – tickets, letters, postcards – these things are more than just objects, they are memories. And OK, there may end up being a suitcase of clothes that I just can’t face getting rid of.
The hardest thing to get rid has been my books, some of which have sentimental meaning, some of which are beautiful editions and some of which are just fucking brilliant stories. Every time I move house I drag boxes and boxes of books with me, and they are the first thing I unpack. A full bookshelf looks like home to me. And yet…the last few carrier bags went this morning, and now even my bookshelf is about to be collected by an eager Gumtree buyer. Its the end of an era and although I do feel sad about it, I feel more excited for the adventures to come. Packing up my room and preparing to leave has made everything feel a lot more real!