Fourteen Years of Stuff


We got married on a Sunday and headed for the West Coast that Tuesday. We had no jobs, no place to live, just a dream and each other. (Ugh. Did I really just write that?) When Greg and I moved across country, we had just started our life together, and all of our belongings fit into my little Honda Civic hatchback that we had loaded to the roof, and about four or five boxes that we had shipped to us later. We waved good-bye to my parents, pulled out of the driveway of my childhood home in Jersey, and I think I cried until we hit Tennessee.

Homesickness aside, it was an exciting time for us. We were young and could do that kind of thing. The California sun was seductive, and I grew to like it and the life we made out here.

Fast forward to fourteen years later: let’s just say the dreams didn’t quite turn out the way we had hoped, although other dreams have been realized and new ones are now on the horizon. We still have each other. And one tenth of our stuff wouldn’t fit in that old Honda. Right about now, I’m wishing it would because it’s time to pack up our lives again for a new journey. We’re heading back to Jersey. Back to what has, even through fourteen years of living in California, been called home. Only this time we’ve got a toddler, a two-bedroom house, and a garage so packed with stuff that we can’t actually fit cars in it. Time to get busy. And not in the fun way.

So this past weekend began the Great Garage Sort of 2010. It started like this:

Holy crap, do we have crap! Cleaning out the garage and sorting though belongings box by musty box is nostalgic, frustrating, exhausting, and, as you can tell by the photo, totally necessary. It also leads to many questions and interesting discoveries. Did you know, for example, that rolls of scotch tape apparently multiply when left alone in the dark? (Except, or course, for during the Christmas season when they go into hiding and force you to buy a new twelve pack at Target even though you know you have some somewhere!) And was the invention of the DVD and now Blu-Ray really an evil plot by movie companies to make you buy all the movies you own multiple times and clutter garages and landfills across the land with old VHS tapes?

We spent most of last three-day weekend pulling out boxes, unpacking, sorting, trashing, re-packing, and cataloging (because I’m a bit anal that way). It’s actually a very cleansing experience in many respects. But apparently, not cleansing enough because so far we’re up to box #34. That does not include the boxes of Christmas decorations and ornaments that we sorted but did not number and catalog because they are in obvious red and green plastic bins. It also does not include the sixteen boxes (Yep, count ‘em—sixteen!) of Greg’s DVD collection, and I’m not sure how many boxes of books. And that’s only what’s stored in the garage. This is not good, people.

We have to pare down our fourteen years of stuff and make it fit into a 16 x 8 x 8 POD, so some tough choices have to be made. Of course, some choices are easier than others. Audio cassettes? Buh-bye. Tax returns from the 90s? Off to the shredder with you! Beanie Babies? Really? What was that all about? But other choices are tougher. I’m a sucker for nostalgia, and I feel guilty about getting rid of things like yearbooks from the schools I taught at that are signed by my former students, baptism cards for Charlie, and the like. Both Greg and I have tons of books. Of course Greg’s books are all about monsters and movies and baseball and war. Mine are English teacher and writing books, young adult novels, crafts books, and a slew of “Dummies” books for my latest endeavor-of-the-month. And as much as he teases me about my giraffe collection, I need only to remind him that my four boxes of giraffes are far outnumbered by his DVD’s and boxes of monster models.

I guess a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, so on we will sort, on we will trash, and on we will pack. Yes, a garage sale is in our future. Probably more than one. By the end of the weekend, our garage looked more like this:

We’re on our way, but there are miles to go (and boxes to pack) before we sleep.

Categories : journeys in life


  1. LeeWee says:

    You obviously need the likes of me and Kristen out there to help you purge! Don’t worry sis, I’ll get you there!


  2. Irene Landon says:

    No, don’t you dare let them help you You will have NOTHING left. NOTHING I TELL YOU!!!


  3. Lisa Kelly says:

    Honestly I’d be on Team Kristen and Lee Ann – purge, purge, purge!!!!!!!!!!


  4. kelly says:

    I AM purging, honest! Like Mom says, if I let Lee at it, our POD would be empty. Well, she’d let us keep Charlie and the dog!


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