It’s underground, at the end of a hallway, poorly lit, five feet wide, ten feet long, and ten feet tall. It’s where, as of Sunday, August 19, the majority of my possessions will be.
I wouldn’t label my lifestyle as minimalism, because while I don’t like having stuff I don’t need, I don’t think I’m a minimalist. “Minimalists search for happiness not through things, but through life itself.” So, fine, that’s me, but I do find happiness in my books, my photos, my art, my six pairs of athletic shoes, and years’ worth of cards from friends and family.
A number of people who enjoy the minimalist lifestyle aim to only own 100 things. Or fewer. I feel like my “shoe collection,” which totals eight pairs altogether, disqualifies me. Especially because I want a pair of weightlifting shoes. I’d hit almost 10% of my quota just with shoes.
But with packing and storing, I have to scrutinize everything I own. Do I really need the misshapen pot that wobbles a little on the stove? And Wuthering Heights… I read 135 pages and wanted to throw the book at the wall, but it still found its way into a box.
I have to fit my life into my storage unit, and that includes the boxes I still have at my parents’ house 1,600 miles away. Two old laptops, several boxes of books, childhood drawings and schoolwork, dishes, old prom and bridesmaid dresses, my letterman jacket from 2001.
Over the years, I’ve pared down a fair amount. I guess moving a lot does that; moves within, to, and out of College Station, Austin, Hsinchu, Dallas, and San Diego mean the fat has been trimmed regularly.
And I’ve only lost three items over the years. My Danskin triathlon medal, my Warrior Dash medal, and a simple diamond ring I bought for myself while in Honolulu on a business trip. (I’m tempted to replace it with a sapphire ring from Montana when I finally make it up there, but that’s beside the point.)
There’s a bigger picture, though. Sure, once I finally find a place where I’d like to live for more than a couple of years, I’ll put my art on the walls and books on the shelves. My crockpot will be unboxed for the first time ever. But in the grand scheme of things, a lot of the stuff I own is unnecessary. Memories are fading, tastes are changing. The long, beaded necklace I bought in the Dominican Republic when I interned at Oscar de la Renta is no longer my style. Or in style, for that matter. I haven’t worn it in years (because I’m stylish, obviously). It represents a memory, but maybe someone else would enjoy it.
Furthermore, my immediate family has gone through the process twice now of cleaning out, sorting, selling, organizing, and storing items left behind by those who passed away. It’s overwhelming. After several years, we still aren’t done, and with some items we’re completely at a loss as to what to do. As morbid as it may sound, as I go through some of my things, when I stall and don’t know what to do, I wonder how my family would feel going through my things, divvying them up, selling what they could, and donating the rest. If I can save them some work, I’m going to start 70 years early and do just that.
For now, though, I’m slowly taping up boxes and relocating my stuff to that basement room of a multilevel storage building. I have a couple bags so far of stuff that needs to find a new home, and my hope is that more things will be added to the donation pile.
Rest assured, however, that my C+C Music Factory and Real McCoy cassettes are safely packed in a box, as will my dwindling DVD and CD collections be. If anyone wants a women’s Fossil Texas A&M watch, though — which I won in a contest as a senior in college in 2005 — it just needs a new battery. Never worn. Comes in a box. Free to a good home. I don’t want to put it in the storage unit. It may not fit with all the VHS tapes and shirts from fifth grade in there.