Sorting it out

It’s Saturday afternoon, and I’m supposed to be working on clearing out my room right now in preparation for the yard sale I’m having at the end of June. But of course I’d rather be playing online and doing anything but work.

However, in the last couple weeks I have made some progress and it’s been kind of fun going through my closet and drawers and discovering long-forgotten mementos and treasures. And a heck of a lot of junk, too, of course. The trick seems to be getting myself started, and then I find it difficult to stop. It’s sort of like pulling the stopper out of a gushing leak of crap that explodes all over my room, and somehow it just seems easier to keep going rather than to try to figure out a place to shove it all so I can actually sleep in my bed and make it to the bathroom at 3am without tripping and killing myself.

This whole clearing out exercise is seriously testing my decision-making skills, too. I’ve figured out there are at least three categories that my stuff falls into:

  1. Things I don’t really care about and can put in the yard sale with no problem. Sadly, this is by far the smallest category. I guess that makes sense since it’s my crap and I originally bought it or received it for a reason, but still it would be nice if my sense of detachment from material objects was a little more developed.
  2. Things I absolutely have to keep and find a way – somehow – to transport to Germany. Pictures, school yearbooks, cards and letters….These are things that I feel I really have to hold on to and slowly transport back with each trip, even if it means strapping it onto my back to avoid exceeding baggage limits.
  3. Things I do care about and would like to keep, but realize I should let go of and stick in the yard sale. This is by far the biggest category that maybe 70% falls into, and requires the toughest decisions. Examples include an Animaniacs umbrella I received for my 18th birthday; it’s big and clunky and won’t be easy to transport, but somehow I just can’t bear to sell it. Or a picture frame that was a gift and I really, really love but matches nothing and I can’t really see how or where I would use it. After much hemming and hawing, I have decided to keep the Animaniacs umbrella (it is practical, after all) and to sell the picture frame. Making these kinds of decisions are the suckiest part of the process, and my guess is that at some point I’ll dive into the garbage bag full of yard sale stuff and pull out the picture frame anyway. Sigh. At least I can pretend I’m making progress.
  4. Oh, wait – I’ve realized there’s another category: awkward, embarrassing stuff that has sentimental value but I’m not sure I’d want someone else to read. I found a diary from when I was 12. I’m really torn on this one. Part of me thinks I ought to keep it to have more insight to what goes on in a 12-year-old’s mind; another part of me is terribly embarrassed and simply wants to burn it. And what do I do about the box of stuff from old boyfriends filled with letters, cards and keepsakes full of mushy sentiments from romances gone bad? These relationships are part of my past so somehow it feels wrong to just throw these things out, yet does it make sense to classify them instead as cherished possessions worthy of trans-Atlantic travel? Unfortunately, it’s one way or the other as there is no middle ground in this sort of situation.

Oh, Calgon…do your thing. And make all the tough decisions for me while you’re at it.


About bittenbythebug

I love travel and have always been fascinated by other cultures. Back in 2004, I began my life as an expat in Edinburgh, Scotland. Fast forward 5 1/2 amazing years later to 2010 and the new chapter in my expat adventure: Würzburg, Germany.
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2 Responses to Sorting it out

  1. Lindsey says:

    Always keep old diaries. Even the embarrassing ones are priceless!

  2. fenella says:

    You have no idea how very much I concur with everything you’re going through. I’ve had the exact same issues. The same clear outs, the same dithering, the same hauling of junk across the Atlantic. Though my flat is much smaller to house it all in. No attic for those old letters one must keep but has no room for.

    I too have left stuff at my parents place. Every time any of them come across, they top up their suitcases with my things. Photo albums, books, the odd journal.

    We’ve both cursed ourselves with this fate and you have my full sympathies. The only thing I’ll say having gone through this for five years now (and my parents DID move house) is that every time you go through it, you get a bit more ruthless. Sometimes it just takes a little time to get to a stage where you no longer care about the Animaniacs umbrella or the picture frame.

    hope to see you sometime soon.


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