Friday, October 26, 2012

Moving Out, Sort Of

When I spend time with my dog, Baxter, we often hang out in the side yard that gives the big puppy plenty of running room. It’s like a small field that points down the hill toward two neighboring houses. When I’m not chasing Baxter or throwing one toy or another for him to fetch, I’m sitting in a chair and reading or playing Draw Something with my daughter in Cleveland. And I'm staring blankly at the two houses—they’re empty, one because the occupant died in June, and the other because the slob who lived there vacated when the bank took over.

I say “vacated” because he didn’t move out the way you or I think of moving, you know, how you box up all of your belongings, pack them in a truck and drive away. This guy threw some things into a van and vacated, leaving the rest of his crap behind. He returned a few times to pull some things out of the house, but he basically just walked away. It was interesting to see what he chose to take during his occasional visits—a lamp, a dirt bike, a few pillows—as opposed to what he left behind—his dogs, a refrigerator on the front porch, a horse.

The animals were rescued by a local organization, but the neighbors were concerned about what might be in that fridge once the utilities were turned off, and the place was allowed to sit in the blazing heat all summer. We all generally avoided the property, making a large arc around it when we had to pass by. All we could do was watch the groundhogs move in and wait for the bank to take full possession.

A crap truck backed up to the crap house.
Well, that day finally came this week, and as I sat outside with my dog, I witnessed a clean-up crew pull up with a big truck and begin the process of purging. These people, who worked non-stop for two solid days, went into the house wearing orange safety vests and mining lights on their heads—I’m not kidding—they plowed the yard with an industrial-size mower, broke up an old grill and decrepit basketball hoop with an ax, and they went upstairs and began throwing debris out through the windows. Crap was flying in all directions, everything from books to toys to clothes still on the hangers. Seriously, clothes on hangers left in the closets, and kids toys left where they lay in children’s bedrooms.

We all amass crap. It’s the American way. And periodically, we cull our crap with garage sales or trips to Goodwill or the dump, and then we amass all over again. We each decide what we can’t live without and what we don’t mind parting with, what we’d sell our shirts to own and what we wouldn’t give two cents for. These decisions are as distinctive as we are as individuals, and after I witnessed the purging of one man's house, a man who evidently cared little for his possessions, I went back into my own house and took stock.

What is it I own that I would part with if I couldn't keep it all? It's not quite like asking what I would choose in case of fire, because we're not talking about an emergency evacuation here. We're talking about taking the time to clean out the closets, sorting through years of accumulations and making carefully thought-out decisions.

Because I lost a considerable amount of weight over the summer, I've already gotten rid of bags of clothes that are now too big, and I've replaced them with select few items as I intend to lose even more weight between now and spring. I've already cleaned out the closets in my kids' rooms as well, since they don't really live here anymore. And we don't have a lot of nick-nacky things laying around. Last year, we did some remodeling, and I was forced to clear out all of our bookshelves and sort through with keep and give-away piles, so we're sort of bare bones as it is with that stuff. Same with pots and pans and pantry shelves.

Someday, I'll have to pack up for smaller digs and purge even further, and I'll do it—keeping my French horn, my grandmother's china cabinet, my favorite books, my pets. And Husband will put his own favorite things in the truck. But people, when that day comes, you will not catch me just walking away so that some crew of strangers will have to come through here and start throwing my leftovers out the windows for the world to see. OK, not the world. Just the nosy woman out playing in her yard with her dog, but still...

3 comments:

dive said...

Darn it! I wish I had money. I'd buy that house and fill it with my own crap.
Then we could have coffee mornings and gossip about the other neighbours.
I might just buy a lottery ticket this week.

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