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Moving on, moving in: What do I do with all this STUFF?

"Are you still nervous to move in?" The Not Boyfriend asked. We were stretched out on his couch at midnight, after a drink, after his long shift in a kitchen downtown. 

"Yes." It was the honest answer. I am.

I have a long list of whys, most of which revolve around the storage space the size of my whole apartment, a basement stacked with remnants of babyhood and marriage. Purging that stuff, or a good deal of it, is more emotional lifting than physical work. I've spent years intending to be done with it all, have a giant garage sale, send it off to Salvation Army or the teen mom organization not far from me. Instead, I go down to the basement with Sharpies and giant black garbage bags, look around, well up with overwhelm and turn around and leave. 

Sometimes, I've dropped six or seven bags of old clothes in a donation box or taken a box of books to our church library. But more often, I've rearranged the stacks of plastic tubs, thrown something over crates, ignoring or attempting to ignore what's all not-hidden there.

I've worked with a professional organizer friend several times, exchanging services in a lovely barter relationships. She's helped me get my desk or my schedule under control and I've offered social media and website advice. 

"My basement," I've said to her on several Skype calls. "My basement."

Those two words to her, and rattling around in my head, are a cry for help, to be saved from all this stuff. The Not Boyfriend is not allowed down there. I don't even want to be down there. And even if my professional organizer friend steps in to help, I am the one who has to deal with it all.

The space where the boxes are is generous. But it feels like a stadium. 

I don't want to end up on Hoarders: Single Mom Special Edition. And my head and heart pound with the understanding that the the worn cardboard and all it holds is from another life that I no longer lead, one I no longer need to harbor in the haven of my musty rooms underneath this building.  I don't want that STUFF to be the wall between me and my love, between us and a new home together.

So...deep breath. Now what? One box at a time? Five a day? One painful weekend of massive purging? 

You can't do it for me (I mean, you can. I'll pay in copious amounts of booze. After it's all done). But you can help me go back down there and do something this time.

When you've had a mountain of stuff to get through, how have you started? What's your best purging advice? How have you finally, finally gotten rid of the tokens of your past lives?

« Moving on, moving in: The reveal. The god-awful, naked reveal | Main | A little bit of big news: Moving on, moving in »

Reader Comments (2)

I'm a one-box-at-a-timer, but it has to be carried into the main living quarters. No basement (or garage, in my case) blankie caressing, rummaging or decision-making. I'm around my actual life and not in some private, quiet, dark area where the mind can go all soft and regret-y.

August 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMadeline

i have to do just a little at a time. i can purge with the best of them but then it all gets too overwhelming and i feel like i'm losing my whole life. after a little time passes, i have a better perspective and i can start purging again.

it's better to have help. someone else can give you better perspective about the best things to keep....and toss!

August 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermelanie

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