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Down Sizing 101


I have to admit that I am a bit of a hoarder. Not the kind who keeps old candy wrappers and milk cartons and empty beer cans and newspapers and coffee grounds and chicken bones and dead goldfish and the occasional hamster. My house does not have paths to wander through to get from one room to the next encumbered by years of accumulation of everything purchased, consumed, borrowed, stolen, delivered, discovered, decayed. No, not like that, but I am a collector of things, documents and keepsakes, artifacts that remind me of who I once knew, and loved, and loved me, and still do. I’ve kept boxes and briefcases filled with documents and transcripts and court filings from lawsuits and hearings, cases that involved my daughter and my career, my wife’s life-changing crash from a ten-wheel truck, another that involved righting a wrong when a sibling stole from their parents’ estate, and a son who refuses to allow his mother to see her grandsons. It was all there…in the attic…waiting. For what I don’t know. It had to go. So we hauled it out, and looked at it, and took pleasure in sending all of it, sheets of it, for hours, through the shredder, until there were bags and bags of it covering the floor of my office. And then in the back of my pickup and tossed like the garbage it was in the bin at the recycling center. Done.

We then started to find a host of other items; Christmas trees and lights and ornaments enough to fill the Rockefeller Center Tree from top to bottom. Wreathes and Snowmen and spotlights and boxes of seasonal treats for Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas and Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day and Easter, oh yeah Easter...bunny rabbits and plastic eggs, and stuffed bunnies with funny faces, bunnies swinging from plastic trees and dying eggs on plastic tables, oh so many cut outs of scaredy cats and pumpkins and more, so much more. In the thirty years we have lived in this house, we have taken U-Haul trailers filled with furniture from my mom and dad’s who got truckloads of stuff from her mom and dad, and more trailers full of stuff from my dad’s homeplace, and from his brother Charles’s homeplace; family pieces, spinning wheels and oil paintings and artwork from Italy and the bedroom furniture in my grandmother’s bedroom and bookcases and photographs and knick-knacks oh so many knick-knacks and don’t forget the do-hickeys.

And no, our home is not crowded, but elegantly displayed like a museum, on shelves and tables, and walls and on the floors standing proudly like the wingback chair my mom used to feed me with a bottle filled with warm milk. Or the rolltop desk was used as a stand for plants to reach the high level basement window. Or the drop leaf table with all the leaves to accommodate a family of ten or more. It all belongs to us, just as we belong to it, a bond formed from familiarity and comfort, a home, a place to keep ones treasured items and a safe refuge for lost items. But now we must choose new homes for all the accumulation of a lifetime, of lifetimes, as we DOWNSIZE and make life simpler and less burdensome on aching muscles and old bones. Stay tuned as I share the small steps just completed in the attic, to preserve my “legacy” pieces, my creations, and things created for me, that I simply cannot part with. Stay tuned. In the past few days I have seen my life pass before my very eyes as I have sorted through shoe boxes, and trunks and cardboard boxes filled with a lifetime of friends and family and lovers and more. Of cars and homes and apartments and farmhouses and road trips to concerts and vacations in paradise. It’s all there, and will so remain until its meaning, its significance is lost on who next has the duty to explore the footprints of a life well-lived.

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