We did find the keys. I had a “Eureka” moment when I remembered laying them down on the counter at the neighbors’ before church on Sunday. My husband had started the van with his set of keys that afternoon, so I never felt the need of my set until it came time to unlock the POD! Thankfully, I found them Tuesday morning, so we had all day (and ample help) to get the POD unloaded.
Let me tell you, it is a real adventure to forcibly downsize yourself–going from 2200 square feet to 1700 is truly revealing. I’ve prided myself for years for not being a pack rat, yet I have to ‘fess up to some pretty wacky things that have come out in this move. In our last three houses, we’ve either had a huge attic or a storage building out back, so I think I just lived in denial, believing we really didn’t have that much stuff. ::Cough:: We have enough stuff to choke a small army.
With the contents of the POD emptied all over the front deck and the lawn and stacked inside the house, I felt a slightly grim foreboding coming over me. There was no way all that stuff would fit into our trailer. No way. I got back to feverishly unpacking things that could go where they belonged–like pots, pans, dishes, clothes–daily stuff we use all the time. A sudden thunderstorm forced us to run out and schlep a whole bunch of stuff back into the POD to avoid a drenching, so I just focused on unpacking and settling what was in the house. Felt pretty good, as long as I could forget what lurked in the POD.
But I had to face it eventually, and I started thinking about storage buildings. I decided to look online to see if it was cheaper to just go ahead and buy one rather than renting storage space. If you go on a monthly payment plan, you can get a nice 12x8x8′ building for about $39 a month over a year’s time. Sounds pretty reasonable compared to $69-119 per month for similarly sized storage at a rental place. So I decided to be a smart shopper and actually go check out these handy dandy sheds. Both Lowe’s and Home Depot have over a dozen sitting in the parking lot, so my oldest son and I walked through a few. The pricier ones with real windows and lofts we ignored. We finally ended up at the bottom rung of storage building Hades in an 8x8x6′ metal shed with no windows. Hey! Only $199! We could just buy that outright! So we headed inside to ask about ordering.
No one seemed to know who was in charge of buildings, so I got passed around to three different people before an indifferent cashier finally handed me a phone and asked me to talk to whoever she had called about buildings. The rather testy lady on the other end informed me that the particular model I had looked at did not come with a roof or a floor; I’d have to buy those separately. WHAT? You mean what I see isn’t what I get? Nope. “Oh, and you have to put it together yourself,” Testy Saleslady said. “It doesn’t come built. None of them do.” All righty. So, now we’re looking at having to purchase flooring and roofing materials and build this thing from a kit. Now I understand the Glory of Storage Rental Units. But I’m not willing to pay over $1000 a year to store things. We made this move to get seriously frugal and save money–not blow it out the window by giving the Christmas tree an air conditioned apartment!
So I head back home, my brain on overdrive, thinking, thinking, thinking. There’s no way around it. All that stuff in the POD isn’t going to fit into that trailer. I park the car, walk through the front door, and announce to my husband, “We’re selling it, giving it away, or throwing it away.” He raises his eyebrows, surprised that I’ve come to this conclusion so quickly and decisively. He’d had that idea all along, of course. So we roll up our sleeves and attack the contents of the POD. Here’s where Embarrassing Confessions of a Closet Pack Rat come in to play. Wanna know what I found?
- Two boxes of letters and notes dating back to high school and college. Drum roll: These boxes had not been opened or looked into since at least 2002. They had come through more moves than I want to admit and were filled with stuff I have no intention of keeping. What on earth did I think I’d need my eleventh-grade biology notes for? This coming from a woman who has laughed at her mother for saving her fourth-grade spelling tests in the attic for 20 years!
- One box of items complete with price tags from a yard sale we had in 2003. This box of leftovers was supposed to go to Goodwill after the sale and somehow ended up in our moving pile. Go figure….
- Two boxes labeled “scrapbooks” that contained photos I haven’t organized since I was a newlywed. The boxes had been taped shut in 2001 and never opened since. I managed to consolidate all of the scrapbook stuff into one nice plastic bin for the “someday” when I have enough time to put pictures in cutesy arrangements on pretty acid-free pages complete with captions (that is, if I can remember the captions by then).
- Two bags of clothing that should have gone to Goodwill two moves ago–including a cap and gown from college graduation.
- Three boxes of paid bills and bank statements dating back to 1995.
The list goes on, but we haven’t finished yet. We do see the light at the end of the tunnel, though! The POD gets picked up empty Tuesday, after all, so we have good motivation to keep at it. My husband has been happily shredding the old bills and statements, since you don’t have to keep those for thirteen years, and I’ve been ruthlessly putting things in the Giveaway or Sell Pile. Today I managed to clear out a large corner of the utility closet here to fit four boxes of books that we cannot fit on our shelves but don’t want to part with. I also managed to go through three boxes of fabric, dumping all the scraps too small to use and organizing all the ones I want to keep or give away. Oh, and does anyone need five rolls of black and white toile wallpaper?
Though it hasn’t been easy to go through everything (especially in 95-degree heat and dripping humidity), I am very thankful that moving into a smaller place has forced us to actually look at what we’ve been schlepping around all these years. There have been surprises and there have been moments of hilarity, and, at the end of it all, there is deep satisfaction in knowing that what is in our closets now is stuff we really do use. No storage buildings for us. No paying rent so our boxes can sit for another year. Paring down can be painful or it can be an adventure…or it can be a painful adventure. But it is well worth it. We’re excited to see that our family actually can fit into our cozy, double-wide cottage and live on less.