I have always been fortunate, in my mind and view of the world anyway, to be fairly unattached to material possessions. I’ve moved on average of once a year since I was 17 and tried to stay unencumbered enough to do this without a moving van every time. A few pieces of furniture, clothes, probably more books than I need, knick knacks and decorations. Last spring I moved everything into an 8×10 storage unit in Portland before I left for Alaska. When I moved all of that up to Washington in September, I got rid of over half of it, going through each box and saying to myself, will I need this in a tiny house? I won’t have an apartment to fill with furniture and kitchen appliances and wall hangings. This was actually before I had any sort of concrete plan on how, where or when I was going to build a house, but I knew. Or maybe it was an attempt at manifestation. It felt good to get rid of it all.
I did this once before, 4 years ago when my marriage ended. I’d been depressed for awhile and my version of retail therapy was going to thrift stores and buying… crap. When we moved out of our rental house into separate apartments, my ex-husband and I were packing up and I was overwhelmed by it all, what to do with each thing, sell it keep it store it trash it. I finally just started putting some things in the driveway with a sign that said ‘Free’, and then Paul started putting stuff out too, and then we started putting the stuff from the ‘Sell’ pile, and then I was carrying box after box out there and people were walking by and asking us, with incredulity in their voices, ‘Is this really free? Can I really just have this?’. We didn’t have ‘nice’ things, but we certainly could have gotten money for a lot of it… the dining room table, the TV, the DVDs, clothes and shoes and who knows what else. We gave it all away. I didn’t want to exchange it for money or other things. I wanted the weight of it all off my shoulders and it felt amazing.
Now, I’m living in my grandparent’s spare room. I have a few boxes in my aunt’s garage and camping equipment in the garage here, but otherwise I fit into a large bedroom. Good practice for the tiny house, and I know the stuff in this room will be all I’ll have in the house as well. I went through the boxes at my aunt’s this week, thinking it would be a simple task, not much there right? Forgetting how sentimental I am and how I am still an adult American middle-class-bred human who has a hard time letting go of shit. It’s weird, going through boxes filled with your past. How do you know when it is time to get rid of something, when it has stopped serving it’s purpose as a tangible marker of your changes and your growth and just become dead weight? I like going through old things. I like holding something in my hand that encapsulates a whole different life. I wanted to be an archaeologist all of my childhood. I appreciate relics. So I kept the things that still make me smile.
It took a few more hours than I anticipated but I got it all organized, filled a box for Goodwill, took out a big bag of trash. I’m holding onto a box of fabric to furnish the tiny house with cushions, curtains and blankets and will get rid of what I don’t use later. I took a gigantic, heavy box of photo albums and spent an entire afternoon removing them from the albums, organizing them by year, trashing pictures of people I don’t remember or don’t want to remember, and placing them into nicely labeled manila envelopes. I’m going to scan them all into a Flickr account. I have pictures of everyone, from every phase of my life. I was always the photographer. Maybe I’ll trash the hard copies later, but I like going through them randomly, in big piles. We did this at Easter with the ‘Family’ envelope, my little cousin asking ‘Who’s that? who’s that?’ as we all picked through them and laughed and told stories.
Besides going through all my old crap, I put some things into the floor joists as a sort of blessing/intention setting of the house. A pen. An agate from the Naknek River. A pentacle carving from witch camp. A peacock feather. A picture of myself dressed as a witch as a child. A picture of my friends and I at the lake in Naknek. I taped pictures of the places I’ve been onto the tops of some of the insulation. Taped some of my favorite poems there too. I want the house to be a place of creativity, travel, magic, writing, freedom, and love.
“Thank you for the peace here. It is the whole animal that worships, not the soul and body splintered. Until I know you, I will carry you inside until I am you.” Janine Pommy Vega
“You who would love me now, beware. I am all fire and blood. I have no time for those who cannot feel their way through flesh to soul.” Patricia Monaghan
And then Mom and Jerry helped lay out the plywood and hook up the nail gun, I nailed down the subfloor and then did a little dance on it. I still have to add the 4″ strips at the end of each piece, under the walls. Next week, wall raising!