My parents both had hoarding tendencies.
Oh, I don’t mean their house was like some of those horrible places you see on TV shows — you didn’t have to weave your way through towering piles of old newspapers or anything like that. But they held onto stuff.
After my mother died last summer, we found bins full of the little boxes that fancy teas come in. . . Christmas cards from 20 years ago. . . checkbook stubs from accounts that were closed decades previously. . .
It inspired me to come home and be even more ruthless about getting rid of my excess stuff in preparation for our move to Panama.
Now that the move is imminent, my husband is starting to let go of things he’s been holding onto. Old report cards from elementary school. . . syllabuses (syllabi?) from some of his Master’s degree courses. . . cards, photos, books. . .
We’ve moved before. Back in 1989, we packed up our (then) four kids and a house full of stuff and moved from upstate New York to Florida. Before the move we had a huge sale and sold off a ton of stuff. After arriving in Florida, we realized we had kept way too much.
When we moved from one house to another in the Orlando area, we got rid of a ton of stuff before the move. We still kept too much.
This time, though, we can’t just put things on the truck, so keeping what we don’t need is simply not an option.
How Do You Live with a Light Footprint?
We’ll be living with a light footprint, for a while at least. We plan to rent someplace furnished for 3-6 months initially. In the meantime, my husband’s brother has offered to let us store a few things in his basement.
So we have a few boxes of books — and only those which are out of print and unlikely to become available digitally. We have one piece of furniture, a lovely teak desk which I’ve had since 1971. My guitar and my husband’s trumpet. Some (but not all, thank goodness!) of his tools.
We’ll ship them down once we’ve been somewhat settled in Panama a few months.
I know a couple who consider themselves perpetual travelers. They spend most of their time in Asia, going from Thailand to China to India to other Asian countries every few months.
They don’t have to worry about residency as they don’t stay long enough in one place for it to be an issue.
Their personal belongings are limited to clothing, a small netbook computer each, and a favorite coffee mug. Wherever the mug is, that’s home.
I don’t know if I could live a life pared down to that extent. Certainly not now, anyway, although I can see the appeal.
In the meantime, I’m looking around and thinking, “I haven’t gotten rid of nearly enough.”