Stuff (stuff) stack it on stack it on up
(Stuff) never gonna ever get enough (stuff)
Oh it’s treasure till it’s mine then it ain’t worth a dime
It’s stuff (stuff) spreading like weeds
Dragging me under in an endless sea of stuff
(Stuff) There ain’t no end
Got to get a bigger place so I can move in
I am back in suburbia in a house, away from my cozy townhouse where I could walk to all of life’s conveniences. I never thought I would do this again, but it’s funny how life’s journey is a twisting path.
I owned three homes during my marriage. A small starter home, then a little larger single family in the same general neighborhood and then the house in the “right” neighborhood with the best schools.
I never got to truly make these houses “mine”. My Ex was reluctant (scared) to do any substantial improvements, so any improvements were a struggle with him. Due to the decade in the last house, I was able to renovate the kitchen (from its original 1968 condition), the pool/patio area and the family room. I painted the exterior and most of the interior, however color choice was usually a lopsided compromise. My bedroom was a hideous salmon color chosen by my Ex. I hated that color from the moment the first brushstroke hit the wall. Even the painter commented that he was betting he would be back to re-paint inside of a month. I left it there for years because I hated the forced intimacy of sharing a bed and living space with someone I no longer loved, so I had no need or desire to create a warm, loving environment.
Now I am back in a house in a neighborhood that reminds me of my middle house. These folks aren’t the 1/2 of 1% of my last house, but they are friendly and quiet. My yard is a fraction of the size of my last house, but it backs up onto a small canal where the birds gather. It’s lovely and I feel good here. I live on the patio here.
I refuse to keep gathering more stuff. During my marriage, I went through a shopping for happiness phase. For a brief time, I had an assistant who was a true shopaholic and from her I learned that momentary burst of satisfaction from a good sale or buying some meaningless bauble that would bring a smile to my child’s face. When I was blue, I would take an afternoon off work and shop.
Now I am a reformed shopper. Clearing out my mom’s house cured me for good. When I saw her stacks of towels, rows of Clinique makeup, hordes of batteries, a freezer full of expired food, I realized that unless I changed my ways, I could easily end up with the same mounds of crap. I didn’t want to do that to my kids. When I gave all of my mom’s belongings to an estate sales company to dispose of, I realized how meaningless possessions are.
I still have moments when I struggle with my recovery. I was in Target with my son this week to get a few final items before his departure to Asia. I picked up some cute acrylic stemless wine glasses and thought that these would be great for sipping wine on my new patio. Then I put them down decisively. “No more STUFF”, I told myself. “Think about all the boxes you just had to unpack for this move”. I didn’t buy them and I don’t miss them, OK, maybe a little.
I have accumulated more stuff than I thought during my past 3 years of freedom. When I moved out, I took very little because major things (furniture, china, even pots) I had not chosen. Funny right? I’m saying that I had a shopping problem, but the big stuff was chosen by the Ex. What the hell did I buy? Stuff for my kids a lot of times, clothes, books, shoes — things my Ex wouldn’t really notice.
Anyway, I moved into my new place and carefully curated everything that went into it. I made meticulous lists of what was needed, shopped the Internet and stores before each purchase, returned things that didn’t work. I spent months on creating my home and I was proud that each and every thing was a reflection of me. I occasionally had a splurge of over-shopping, but I am much better. This project filled my weekends and nights so I didn’t feel lonely.
Now I have the Hunter in my life, my home and my bed. This house is now OUR home, so I also have to let him have a say, a place and an influence in it. I just gave him a desk and file cabinet in my beautiful, large office so he has a work space of his own. This necessitates me getting a few things perhaps, but I am patient to see if they are truly necessary. We have open spaces in our home, not bare, just open and I like it. I don’t feel confined by the clutter like I have felt in the past.
The Hunter and I have dreamed of living in an RV and traveling the country. I read about these full-time RV’ers and how they have scaled their belongings down to the bare minimum. It fascinates me. Then I wonder what I would do with my grandmother’s dining room set. Hopefully my daughter will want it. If not, I’ll figure out a good home for it when that day comes.
The dining room set is a great example of subtle conflict in my marriage. My Ex didn’t like it. He wanted something contemporary and was constantly harping about getting rid of it. The seat cushions were needle-pointed by my grandmother. It is a charming, classic set with a table encompassing 3 leaves, 6 chairs, a corner hutch and a buffet. Not cumbersome or ornate, just charming and lovely. I need to eventually refinish it, but for now I just enjoy it. My Ex had no empathy for my sentimental feelings. I guess it’s fair because his mother was saddled with a dinning room set from her mother-in-law that I swear was authentically from the Middle Ages. It was black, heavy, gothically ornate in a hideous style that I hated from the first moment I saw it. It lived in my house in my dining room for about a year at one point. Thankfully, my gracious mother-in-law got rid of it before I had a meltdown.
So this rambling post is just my meditation on stuff and place. Thunder is rumbling gently as I write. I hear dozens of birds, a low murmur of traffic in the distance and my dog is snuggled by my side. It’s peaceful here. I am content to sit here and write as the Hunter snoozes after our morning quickie.