Sunday, February 10, 2013

Storage Wars

Nearly 27 years ago, when I graduated from college, I vowed to never own more than could fit into my sky blue VW bug. I had dreams of working as a traveling journalist, or foreign correspondent, and I knew remaining mobile and light of possessions would help in my globe-roaming future. Yet six months later, when I moved to Charlotte, N.C., for my first full-time job as a reporter for United Press International, my dad was already pulling a small U-haul with my belongings, although at least it was only an old sofa and a bed.

Today I doubt I could fit the contents of one of my closets in that old VW. The dreams of youth have been replaced with the pleasant realities of middle age, which in the United States of America at least, comes with a lot more stuff. Along with the husband and two children came home ownership and its furnishings. Also, I discovered I hate flying, which greatly eroded the previous appeal of globe-trotting.

I look around my house and see what is still in my opinion too much stuff, although I know it's quite light in comparison to my peers. I don't shop for recreation; I rarely enter a store for anything besides groceries. So I've avoided accumulating clutter of the knick-knack variety and only have those types of items as a result of gifts, mostly from my mother who is the Clutter Queen.

When I was visiting my parents during the Christmas holidays, I saw a television show about people who get into bidding wars over the contents of abandoned storage sheds. Apparently the appeal of this show, apart from the drama of the bickering, is to witness the variety and quantity of nonsense on which strangers have wasted their money accumulating. I glanced at my mother's possessions and could easily imagine them featured on that show. I renewed my vow to not go down that path, even though I'm reconciled to requiring at least a small truck for any future moves.

Books are not clutter
Returning home to Michigan, I turned a more critical eye to my own clutter, such that it is, and have been working to reduce it. I've been clearing closets of clothes I know I will never wear again and desk drawers of irrelevant papers. I will concede to being a hoarder of books and acknowledge that I will probably never mend my ways and will be perpetually short of sufficient book shelving. However, I did manage to removed a few items. Ok, to be honest, it was only user manuals for long-departed computers and a 20-year-old Fodor's guide for Mexico, but hey, that's something!

Next up: food storage.

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