Stuff and Nonsense

Our goal is to clear out one of our storage units by the end of the month. We rented two 10-by-10-foot units a couple years ago, when we moved to our new house. We were supposed to have had several months for getting our old home ready to put on the market. During that time, we planned to make repairs and go through thirty years’ of stuff in the basement. But the house actually sold before we ever put it on the market, and suddenly we had to move out a lot of stuff with no time to sort through it all and get rid of things. We did throw out or donate a lot, but we were still doing work on the new house at the time, so we ended up filling storage units with everything else that we couldn’t immediately fit when we moved.

And now, after yet another price increase at the storage place, we want to clear out the first unit. We drove over there today and brought a carload back to the house. Some of it will go to Goodwill tomorrow; the rest we’re sorting through to see what to keep and what to throw away. We plan to go back tomorrow for another load from the unit we’re trying to empty. But there will still be plenty of stuff left after we take away what can fit in our (compact) car.

Part of our problem — common with married couples, I suppose — is that we disagree on what’s worth keeping. My husband has piles of old electronic devices, mostly stereo components (including three cassette tape players), at least two VCRs, a turntable that doesn’t work, obsolete computer equipment, mystery cables, and so forth. I don’t see why we still need cassette tape players and VCRs; I got rid of my remaining cassettes and VCR tapes before we moved. My husband did not, and says he can’t possibly get rid of them until he goes through everything to see which ones he wants to replace with newer technology. Most of the electronic equipment in question is at least 20 years old; some is twice that. I say equipment that old won’t work with more modern components, and takes up way too much space. He says if it still works, or can be fixed (someday, when he gets around to it) then we should keep it.

He wants me to get rid of holiday stuff. He says Halloween is for kids, and our son is 19, so we don’t need Halloween stuff. I think he’s a spoilsport, that Halloween is for everyone; in fact, it’s probably my favorite holiday. Of course we need our Halloween decorations! And we still celebrate Easter each year, in our low-key, secular way, which sometimes includes making Ukrainian Easter eggs, which require some equipment, which takes up space. And we have baskets and table linens and other Easter-related things we use on the holiday. So why would I want to get rid of our Easter stuff?

I suppose I could agree to get rid of the Halloween stuff, if it makes him feel better to clear out those two boxes. But I would buy new Halloween stuff each year and then give it away after the holiday. Maybe he’d like that better…. No, he really wouldn’t. He would hate to spend the money. But I will not agree to stop celebrating Halloween, just so he can save on storage space. I might also be able to cut down on the Easter stuff, if he could figure out where he put it all. They’re not all together in the same storage unit, and it would be easier to go through them if we had them all in one place.

Then there are books. We both have many, many boxes of books. For some time, he insisted I have a lot more boxes of books in storage than he does. I didn’t think that was the case. Now I see why he thought so. He considers any box of books that I packed up as my books. The only ones he counts as his books are those that he packed, and that say “Bob’s Books” on the box. And I packed up a lot more of the boxes (of everything, not just books) than he did. I pointed out to him that while some of the boxes I packed say “Cathy’s Books,” many others just say “Books.” The ones that don’t specify an owner contain a mix of books — mine, his, and our sons. So no, they are not just mine. Books are a hard one for both of us. He’s a librarian; I’m a writer. Books are what we do. I’m probably ready for another culling of mine, but I know I won’t get rid of a lot of them. What we need are more bookshelves in the house, so we have places to unload some of those boxes onto.

Did I mention school stuff? I think Bob was insane to save every piece of paper from our son’s thirteen years in school. I would tell him so at the time, but he said there was no time to go through it at the end of each school year. So he stuck every worksheet, every math test, and every spelling lesson in boxes in the basement. So we transferred into our storage units many, many boxes of K-12 school assignments. We’ve gone through a lot since then, but it never seems to end. And he claims we have to do it together, because we might not agree on what to keep. So I’ve suggested that either one of us can just toss anything that isn’t personal — worksheets, multiple-choice tests, and such. No discussion, no hard decisions. We can separate out the special projects that are more individual — there aren’t that many of them — and consider those together, if he insists that this must be a family project.

I also think he’s insane to keep a stack of National Geographics from the 1970s, financial information from the 1980s (we’re not talking tax records and stock-market stuff; we’re talking receipts for newspapers and cups of coffee), and old church bulletins from churches he has not attended in decades.

And he probably thinks I’m insane for having boxes of stuff related to organizations I’ve worked with. Quite a few of those boxes are filled with things I still use for each year’s conference of one group I’m an officer for, so I can’t get rid of those. But I also have a lot of items left over from a student arts contest I ran for many years. A lot of that stuff should have been passed on to other people last year, but then the schools closed down, and there was nowhere to pass it onto. Now I’m not sure who’s running the contest, or even if it’s still going on. A teacher at one school was interested last year in taking dozens of old picture frames from the art show off my hands, to use for her own school’s art shows. I’d be happy to let her have them, but the covid shutdown meant she couldn’t take them last year; I need to reconnect with her and see if she’s still interested.

And then there’s the ancient keyboard that Bob thinks a music teacher at the middle school might want. I’m not sure he would; it’s ancient and probably isn’t compatible with any of the new technology. But Bob has not actually contacted him to ask. So it sits, taking up space.

In other words, we have a lot of work left to do.

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