Suzi and I recently sold our house. It’s something we’ve been talking about for awhile and the time seemed right. Strangely, the market is good in spite of (or because of) the pandemic. Interest rates are way down and Suzi had what I call an unction. A handful of times in our life Suzi has come out with an “I think we should …” statement. Once it was “I think we should buy a trailer.” That one was way out of left field, but we bought the trailer and I later learned why that was a good idea (maybe a topic for another post). This time it was, “I think we should sell the house.” Not, “I think we should sell the house, someday” like the conversation had been. It was, “I think we should put the house on the market now.” I’ve learned to listen to Suzi’s unctions so we sold the house.
Our recent 12-Day Journey took place after we had accepted an offer on the house. We knew the time between accepting the offer and moving was our only opportunity to enjoy some relaxation so we took vacation and off we went.
We bought this house in July of 2014. We lived there for 6 years and 4 months making it the longest I’ve lived in any one place in my entire life. We saw our two youngest go from 8th grade to High School graduation and beyond in that house. It holds a lot of memories. Turns out, it holds a lot of other stuff as well.
When you move, you are usually moving to somewhere. We weren’t. We were just moving out. That means we had to pack and move everything to storage. Everything including the chair we had just bought in Tennessee and carried 2,000 miles back with us. Well, not everything. Our buyer had purchased our two largest pieces of furniture as well as our fridge, washer, and dryer. That was a relief. We didn’t have to store those.
The weeks after our vacation were filled with packing and moving loads of the stuff of our life to storage units. There was a great paring down taking place as well. We had a moving sale one weekend and I became close friends with Facebook Marketplace. Online I sold an extra TV, our basketball goal, our baby grand digital piano (that one was hard to let go), and several other large items we didn’t want to store. We also put so many things out on the curb for people to pick up free I can’t recount them all. Every thing we put out was taken by someone. There were also several trips to the thrift store donation center.
I rented 4 U-Haul trucks over the course of the next few weeks (that’s another whole story). Twice we decided to use the truck to take a load of trash to the transfer station. That was eye-opening. When you take items to this transfer station in a truck, they have you weigh in and weigh out and charge you by the portion of a ton. The first time we went the load was 860 pounds! Even the guy taking my money said, “That’s a big load.” The second time we went the load was 520 pounds. That’s a total of 1,380 pounds … of trash! That’s one skinny teenager away from 3/4 of a ton of trash. I was blown away. How do you accumulate and hang on to that much trash? That doesn’t even account for all the stuff we sold, gave away, and the couple trips we made to the transfer station with an SUV full that didn’t get weighed. When I say we got rid of a ton of stuff, I’m probably understating it.
How does a family have a ton of trash? I’m not talking about old cereal boxes and milk cartons or the daily scoops from the litter box. I’m not talking about the stuff you put into the trash bin out on the curb once a week. I’m talking about stuff that we once considered important enough to keep and, in some cases, move with us more than once. It wasn’t trash when we got it. It was memorabilia or things we kept “in case we might need it someday.” But, during this move, we decided we didn’t “need” or want it anymore. So, what was once some of the “stuff of our life” became trash.
It was a ruthless exercise and sometimes we said, “Yes, we’re finally getting rid of that!” but in some cases we said, “Aw, you’re getting rid of that?!” I’m not sure we had a rule about how we made the decision to discard. In some cases it was simply, I have been carrying this around for years and haven’t thought about it once except when packing it for the next move, so out it goes. Other times it was a harder decision, but we had to pare down.
I’m still sorting out the lessons for me from this story. What principles do you think you could illustrate with a story about 1,380 pounds of trash?