For quite some time now, Chris has been waging a war on “stuff.” He is a minimalist, and the rule at our house is that when we buy something new, we have to throw away or donate two of something old. No problem when it comes to clothing or shoes. Old clothing and shoes wear out or no longer fit, so getting rid of these items is an easy decision. For me, that’s pretty much the sum total of what I find easy to dispose of.
I’m not a hoarder – famous last words – in the sense that my mummified body will eventually be found crushed under boxes of old newspapers and empty cartons of kitty litter and Chinese take-out. I don’t like clutter in my living space. I don’t like to dust knick knacks, whats-its, doo-dads, or chachkies. I do have a small collection of porcelain figures that my mom and I brought back from China and I love them, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world if they broke or I had to sell them. I have photos of them, and even looking at the photo makes me smile and remember my trips to China.
However, not being a hoarder in the true sense of the term does not mean that I am a minimalist. Open my closets at your own risk. And whatever you do, “…don’t look in the basement.” There’s a reason that was the tag line for the 1973 horror movie The Forgotten. To repurpose another cliché, “Who knows what evil lurks…?” Okay, so maybe I’m employing a wee bit of hyperbole. I must mention, however, that the lights in the basement work on a random basis and that it’s really dark when the lights won’t come on, which adds to the horror motif. You can rest assured that the intermittent lighting isn’t caused by a ghost, though, because Chris doesn’t want me to bring home any more pets.
Now that I don’t teach middle school, there is an entire classroom in the spacious finished basement, minus chairs and desks. Need clipboards for 30 students? I have them. Looking for a Venn diagram template with three or even four circles? I have it. Need a wooden snake you can use as a hands-on tool when you teach “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi?” You can borrow (keep) mine. I have boxes of grammar worksheets, literary analysis graphic organizers, and maps of Asia. I have boxes of lesson plans you could use to teach 7th graders or adapt to teach anyone. Oh, and let’s not forget the boxes of posters and class sets of novels. I could go back into the 7th grade classroom tomorrow, and not even have to buy a stapler or paper clips.
The classroom in the basement is directly adjacent to the “apartment.” Packed so tightly no one can actually walk across the room, there is a bed, dresser, desk, sofa, coffee tables, and armchairs to completely furnish an apartment. There are also dishes, glasses, pots and pans, Tupperware, silverware, and decorative cookie cutters in large, unmarked boxes.
It doesn’t matter that I no longer teach middle school, and that my son (who owns the furnishings) shows no signs of wanting to move out; I am hesitant to get rid of this “stuff.” Why? It’ll be useful someday. Right? Won’t it? I won’t want to have to buy new supplies if I go back into teaching, and I may need those furnishings when my sons put me in a senior home in the future. I just can’t seem to get past the idea that I may actually NEED this stuff in order to minimalize it. Now wait: that’s the definition of hoarding, isn’t it? Well, darn.
Link to photo: