As I once again whittle away at our belongings as part of our ‘going aboard to live’ tasks, I am amazed at the stuff that multiplies outside of our consciousness.  In this third ‘clean up and clean out’ effort I discovered piles of faded linens, old coverlets, blankets and towels in that back of closets, filling four giant plastic bags. Routing into our bedroom closets and dressers,  imagining myself a pirate hunting for treasure, I found a dozen pair of  dusty shoes, a mountain of hose and socks I didn’t know I still owned, and slacks, shorts, shirts, coats, sweaters, purses, shoes, and suitcases that escaped the previous purges, all perfectly good — orphaned by me before their “use by” date– a classic ‘you can wear it forever’ shopper.   My years of recreational shopping has come back to haunt me.  These filled another six bags.  The Good Will guys saw me coming and smiled!

My husband has figured that we have moved on the average every four  years since we started living together in late 1992.  Only once did the movers just come in and pack it all up.  I vividly remember shredding 35 bags of paper that were dutifully delivered as John’s business files after we moved to Memphis.  Since then, we’ve purged old and  unwanted files and stuff of all shapes and sizes.

On the paper side of life, John continues slowly to plow through folders, articles and notes in his unending attempt to clean out his office.  Like all proverbial ‘pack rat’, he finds meaning in almost every item, insisting on saving it digitally or at least giving it a good last read before throwing it in the recycle box.  Watching him requires patience and deep breathing.  Good exercise for me.

The good news is that we now recognize what is worth keeping.  Those things that bring back memories of places explored, gifts to be remembered, friendships shared, and furniture that actually looks good in a grouping as well as being totally comfortable.  We are now almost down to the question, “Do we take it on the boat or put it in storage to await our return?”

I can’t imagine what it would be like to live in the same place for 25 years with sufficient attic, basement and garage space to absorb all the stuff we have owned.  What’s in your home crevices?  What will your children have to sort through after you die?  Or will they just call the hauling service and close their eyes as your life of belongings are tossed away?

The challenge will be, upon our return to land, to keep from accumulating again.  Old habits are difficult to break.