Moving, Compulsion, and Parting Ways
For the last three years I have shared an enormous three bedroom apartment with my girlfriend. She might argue how much I shared it, as it seems my stuff has absorbed the majority of the apartment’s space. When we first moved in, I was promised the front bedroom to use as a gear room. I quickly took over the front bedroom but as I settled in, so did my stuff.
The problem is that my stuff not only settled in…it also started to multiply. I don’t know how or when it started, but three bikes quickly became five bikes, two snowboards became three snowboards, a few pairs of telemark skis were soon joined by a few more pairs of telemark skis, as well as a pair of AT skis. People who know me well will not be surprised by this, but shoes were the real rabbits of the gear room, repopulating at an unfathomable pace. I could probably last a month without ever having to wear the same pair of shoes twice. In fact, they multiplied so fast it was hard to keep track of them. (Thankfully the shoes have yet to produce any minimalist shoes.)
Before I knew it, the gear room had begun to creep into other rooms of the apartment. It started innocently enough with some guidebooks working their way into the living room. Following the guidebooks were the magazines: Backcountry, Powder, Alpinist, Rock and Ice, and many others all piled up on the coffee table. After the magazines settled in, the shelf underneath the television became home to a collection of skiing and climbing videos. Next thing I knew the bicycle trainer had moved into the living room – after all, you need to have something to do while watching the aforementioned skiing and climbing videos. With the trainer, a couple of bikes seized the opportunity to leave the gear room and made it into the backroom. After a visit from the landlord (he was shocked to discover the amount of stuff we had) he kindly offered us space in the utility room outside of our apartment. That space quickly became what is fondly known as the ski shed.
Now on the verge of a move to a much smaller place, I am being forced to reevaluate what I really need. Going through the apartment is like a cross between a visit to REI and an episode of hoarders. The process started simply enough by asking the question “Have I used this in the last year?” It was amazing the amount of stuff that had piled up that was simply no longer is use. Forget a year…there was stuff that had probably not been used since I moved it three years ago. Next was the question “Do I need this?” Digging into the gear room proved there was a great deal of duplication. Multiple hard-shells, fleeces, puffy coats, and the like dominated space in the gear room. I bought a great deal of the items to replace items as they wore out but have been surprised how long stuff actually lasts. Surprisingly, if you buy quality merchandise and use it how it is intended, it lasts a remarkably long time.
For the moment I have enjoyed the process of paring down my possessions. Being a fairly ordered and organized person I have found the process an exercise in effeminacy. While I have not gone crazy, I have taken three trash bags worth of clothes to goodwill, brought a box of stuff in to give out at work, and have three large piles of stuff on the guest bed (also being given away) to be distributed to friends in need of gear. I look forward to living in a space not so consumed by stuff, and am moving forward without hesitation. Worst case scenario is I just sit back and wait for everything to start multiplying again.
Every time I comb through my stuff in preparation to move I this blog post comes to mind. If you have a moment read it and enjoy. http://semi-rad.com/2012/06/the-year-of-buying-nothing-new/