We first put our house on the market back at the end of May. Fully expecting it to sell fast, we ordered up a POD and had it dropped in our driveway. If you aren't familiar with PODS (Portable On-Demand Storage), they are, in essence, large plastic shipping containers -- the size of U-Haul box truck -- for moving, with roll-up doors that you load yourself. The company comes and picks up the container and trucks it to wherever you want. We used one several years ago when we were building an addition in our garage and needed to clear out some stuff during construction. That one just sat in our driveway the whole time, but it worked great.
This time, we loaded it up with the type of things we thought we wouldn't need for a few months. A few extra bits of furniture. Boxes of books. Winter clothes and Christmas tree decorations. Beyond that we had an eye for clutter. What were the things, we asked, that might make our house seem muddled?
Now, we've got a pretty minimal decor sense anyway -- at least La Esposa does -- so this took a bit of work. Furniture pieces that we kept on hand for visitors were loaded into the POD. As were some kitchen items. An extra set of dishes. Photos, paintings, tchotchkes. Some of the kid's toys. The idea was that when potential buyers came to look at the house, there'd be enough there to give a sense of how furniture might fit, but not so overwhelming that it made the rooms look cramped. The POD loaded, the house looked bare. I was almost embarrassed, wondering what buyers would think of us. How poor we must be. They would think we were selling the house because we were avoiding foreclosure. We'd sold our furniture and now all that was left was the house.
The truck came and moved the POD and the moving sign went up.
In addition to the above reasons, we were looking at this as an experiment. Of those things we'd packed away, what things would we miss? What things would we forget we even had?
There were a few that popped up in a matter of days. La Esposa and I had just gotten back together -- I'd just moved my stuff back to the house from my apartment a week earlier and much of it remained in boxes -- boxes that were just put away into the POD. I had an inkling I'd be teaching a few classes during the summer, so there were some things I kept out for that purpose. And even now, I can't tell you what any of the things were that I wanted. (The exception being a sweet-sage smudge stick that we thought of using to clear the negative energy out of a few rooms.)
And as the time went by and the house was not selling, we came to realize that most of it was stuff we could live without. And, in fact, a lot of the stuff that remained in the house could go. As I said, we were pretty minimal before. Having the stuff gone made us realize how well we were doing with much less.
At the point where we were considering throwing in the towel on selling -- at least for the school year -- we called up the PODS people and had them return our stuff. We unloaded everything, putting it back where it was.
And, holy crap, it was a lot of stuff. You saw that coming, though, right? Suddenly our house -- which had once seemed minimal -- now felt jammed full. Nothing seemed to fit right. It was cluttered. We had to get rid of a lot of the things that had been in the POD. We held a yard sale the following weekend. It was a cleansing experience. Furniture and things we'd dragged around with us for years, holding onto "just in case," went up for sale. Slashed prices. Given away. Given to thrift stores.
There's not a point here, really. As I said, you saw it coming. But, much of it was hard. I had a boombox cd/cassette combo that I'd lugged around since the late 90s when my second wife and I separated. I used it when I worked in the garage or
out in the yard. Since then, though we'd gotten Bose portable iPod player that I used instead. I used it to make cassettes from CDs because I still had a cassette player in my truck -- though I used the player as an adapter to play my iPod. There was really no rational reason to keep it. It went to a piano teacher for $3 and I felt better about it.
My whole time with La Esposa has been about downsizing and minimalizing and letting go of things. It's been a sucky, painful, angry, humiliating, and mostly enlightening process.