As part of our move, we made the decision to drastically downsize. Whatever we can’t fit in our car, we’re not taking.
Ok, that’s slightly misleading. We will be storing a few sentimental items at my mom’s, but we really are getting rid of probably 90% of our things.
It may seem a bit extreme – ok it is a bit extreme to go from a 2-bedroom house down to what’ll fit inside an itty-bitty car – but the funny thing is it doesn’t feel super crazy.
Tristan’s always been much better at the whole minimalistic thing. When I met him, he owned very few things.
I, on the other hand, am a bit of a packrat. A collector. A sentimentalist, even.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m a hoarder (I’ve seen that show on A&E or TLC or whatever and that’s some scary shit!) but I do like to keep random little souvenirs around. Reminders of good times, great people & memorable travels.
I’m also a photographer, of course, so I have lots of albums filling the shelves and old 35mm negatives stuffed into shoe boxes. These pre-digital-era photos have been begging to get scanned, archived and backed up for years because if they’re lost right now, they’re lost forever. And that would break my heart.
Have you ever been asked what you’d save in your home (apart from your loved ones, of course) if your house suddenly caught on fire? Well, the number one thing I’d save is my photos.
My point is, making the decision to essentially go from owning a house full of stuff to nearly nothing has not come easily or naturally for me. Having very few things is not something I’m used to, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen if it’s something I really want. Which I do.
The Process: How to Sort it All
It’s really been a matter of taking it one step at a time. Once we decided we were gonna make the move to Alaska and shed most of our belongings before going, we began assessing everything we own. Everything gets put into one category:
Each item gets one designation and put into the figurative – or literal – pile.
We’re obviously super limited here because what doesn’t fit in or on the car isn’t coming with us. So far, it’s been limited to:
- Nani, her crate & her bed. We may end up having to trade out a smaller crate because the current one takes up probably 2/3 of the backseat with her in it.
- Clothes & Shoes. Which take up more space than I’d like because it’s gonna be cold up in Alaska! My new winter boots are rated down to -40 degrees because there’s no way I want my footsies frozen on the tundra.
- Sports Equipment. One of the driving reasons for going to AK is so the hubby can get in some more skiing. His main motivation is to finally go heli-skiing, which has been on his list to do for just about ever now. This stuff will mostly fit (we hope) in the Thule box on top of the car.
- Emergency Kit. We’re gonna be driving something like 3500 miles, some of which will be quite in the middle of nowhere. So we’re prepping a kit that will hopefully have the essentials we need in case of a breakdown or some such thing.
- Computer, etc. We’re pretty streamlined here already, but we’ll have our laptops, my camera gear and some other odds and ends.
Even though I’m trying to mend my packrat ways, I can’t yet part with the photo albums I’ve so lovingly created.
While I am in the process of digitizing the photos, some things can’t be replaced with a simple pixel-based image, so the few things that I cherish are gonna be saved and stored at my mom’s (thanks, Mom!) until (and if) we finally settle down.
I can’t even begin to tell you just how much extra stuff we had. We’ve made I don’t know how many trips to Goodwill to donate literally dozens of bags full of a bunch of stuff we didn’t know we didn’t need until now.
It makes me sad and a little ashamed at the sheer volume of crap I thought was somehow necessary to have in my life. I’m at least hopeful that someone else will be able to use and put to good use the things that I never did.
For those of us who buy things we don’t need, and have trouble coming to terms with sunk costs, Craigslist and eBay are wonderful. It helps you recover some of the cost of the items and you don’t feel so bad for wasting your hard-earned money on it in the first place.
Utilizing both eBay & Craigslist has been unbelievably helpful in giving us another way to offload our things so that others can use them, while also helping us build our moving fund.
As much as possible, I try to reuse or recycle most everything because I have a hard time with waste in our society. But as we were going through certain boxes and items in our house, we realized that some items couldn’t be salvaged. This stuff just gets tossed in the garbage.
We literally have cleared out at least 1/3 of each of our closets of clothes and shoes, donated and sold sports equipment, games and furniture and still have a ways to go. It’s been truly amazing to see just how much you can donate, throw away or sell and still have left. So far, I don’t miss a thing that’s gone.
Through it all, I’ve come to realize we need so much less than we think we do.
Before I go, I’ll leave you with this quote. I watched Fight Club again recently and was a little amazed to see how many things the characters said that had direct relevance to our current situation. Guess I shoulda paid more attention the first time around.
“The things you own end up owning you.” –Tyler Durden, Fight Club
(And here’s another link to some more thought-provoking Fight Club quotes if you’re interested.)