I don't know what came over me last weekend (probably the imminent visit of my brother and the crazy urge to clean that always proceeds the arrival of guests) but suddenly I felt overwhelmed by everything in my house. "Where did all this stuff come from? What possessed me to buy this or order that?" Everywhere I looked… stuff. I couldn't take it anymore. "Out you go", I thought, and out went: chairs, rugs, tables, bowls, and stools. And knick knacks. Soo many knick knacks. In came a handful of cash and an overwhelming feeling of peace.
I've been living in my home a long, long time. And stuff accumulates. I moved in with one suitcase, a set of Thonet chairs and a fully-stocked kitchen. I know that when I move out, I'll need much more than a van to transport everything. And that feels overwhelming and burdensome to me. Maybe it's an age thing? I do notice that the older I get the less stuff I want. (I feel pretty sure I could go overboard the other way.) I've definitely become less sentimental about stuff. The things that I used to have trouble parting with I now put happily into the bag destined for the charity shop. Now what I find appealing is space. White walls. a few really amazing pieces with a story … a lamp I found on a trip to the desert, chairs from my uncle's studio, grandma's silver. I want to spend less time dusting and more time drinking wine with friends. I want room for a spontaneous pajama dance party or an invigorating game of Wii tennis. I want room for my friends' kids to come over and not have to worry about them bumping into furniture or breaking a knick knack. And the furniture and tchotchkes that I do have must be functional. A couch comfortable enough for a long afternoon nap or to play the role of bed for a friend who's in town for the weekend. A dining table that also works as a desk, a craft table and a place to roll out cookies.
That's the dream, at any rate. The reality is that I'm human. I love shiny, pretty things. I need those… owl coasters, crocheted pillows, hand carved bowls. I want to take them home. Sometimes I win the battle with myself. Sometimes I put it down and walk away. And sometimes… not so much.
It's a constant struggle, one I know I'll never win. And that's okay. Because I love stuff… even when I don't.
(Image: Flickr member Benimoto, licensed under Creative Commons)