Question: What do pack rat middens and compost piles have in common?
Looking through one of my closets upstairs, I discovered I have clothing I forgot I owned. Now, it’s not like I haven’t had a couple of clear-outs, because I have, and two of them recently. We have filled bags with clothes and books and other stuff for Goodwill, the Salvation Army, the Purple Heart or some church, foundation, or other entity. Imagine how stuffed those closets would be if I had kept all the junk I accumulated over the years. David has kept most of his junk, including suits he hasn’t worn in 40 years.
David and I are signed up for a session on down-sizing to be held at one of our local retirement homes later in May. I always feel out-of-place if we visit these places because everyone is “so old” and everything they own is stuffed in one room or a small apartment. I don’t feel old, however that feels. Also, David says he is going to die in this house. That doesn’t mean I am going to follow him. I tell him he cannot die until we get rid of all the accumulated junk. By accumulation, I mean everything from the cardboard cores in the center of toilet paper rolls to the plastic containers that were once full of some cleaning product or other. He saves everything. I cleaned his bed room and shop both times he was hospitalized with joint replacements, and tossed many things out, but he missed nothing.
Our “downsizing” date is with Goodwin House, which is going to have shredders on site, which means we can haul stuff there and have them shred it. We have constantly jammed our own shredders (his and hers) trying to eliminate the paper we have stored in desks, drawers, filing cabinets, closets, and everywhere else: medical bills, invoices, statements, tax returns, articles copied from journals, papers written for long ago classes, etc.
For a long time, I buried the shredded material in the compost bins or gave it to my granddaughter for her worm farm, or put it in the bottom of bird cages. One day, I got tired of jamming the shredder and stopped shredding.
As for clothing I didn’t know I had, some of the items are new, either never worn or worn once and washed and put away for the season. I tend to switch out my summer and winter clothing, and it’s just possible I forgot something relatively new. I found several shirts, two of them exactly like two shirts I just ordered from Land’s End.
Crature of habit that I am, I tend to wear the same clothes over and over. I wash them of course, but put my favorite things back in my working closet and wear them again the following week. Ditto sheets. I wash them, put them back on the bed and use them again. I have several sheet sets in my linen closet, but I have almost never used them.
I don’t know. Maybe this is the infamous comfort zone some experts warn us about. But, I like my comfort zone. Downsizing isn’t going to be fun, but it may save one of us grief later on. I can’t think of anything more depressing than cleaning our someone else’s junk, clothes, mementos, etc., after they are gone. My mother and my aunts began clearing out stuff years before they died. Even so, I went through my Mom’s things after she died, and she had much junk.
I don’t know if other men ever clear out anything, but David is Mr. Pack rat Supreme.