One frigid day early last January I came home to this:
My house caught fire while I was away for the night visiting my boyfriend. The house was an 80% rebuild due to water and smoke damage. My housemates and dogs were all safe, thank the Universe.
Unfortunately though, I didn’t lose a ton of my stuff.
During the 9-month saga of renovations, I lived in a rental house with just the basics and a little bit of comforts: most of my clothes, a bed, rental sofa and dresser, and some sentimental photos and artwork. It felt odd and a bit sparse at times but it worked and I was getting used to it.
When it was time to move back into my house, it only took 2 friends and half a truckload to get it done. But then!…Servepro Cleaners shows up with an entire moving truck full of my previous life, all boxed up. Dozens and dozens of them piled up to the ceiling in my living room. These were the things they salvaged, cleaned, and restored from the fire.
My anxiety soared. I didn’t want to open a single box because I knew I didn’t need any of it. Dumb kitchen gadgets, three full sets of hand weights (why!?), way too many bed linens, artwork I didn’t like. And on top of this stuff, I had more boxes of things I inherited from my mom just a few months earlier, which I also didn’t know how to get rid of…
It was beyond stressful, and really freaking eye opening.
Most of it is still boxed and ready for a big yard sale this summer. So what have I learned? That I need to stop and think clearly about my purchases. So here are the questions I find myself asking these days:
Will I remember it?
Would I remember or miss this thing if it disappeared into storage for a full year? My scenario above proves that no, most of the stuff I owned I totally forgot about. In a very depressing way.
Is there room for it?
Moving back into my renovated house, I’ve found myself appreciating a minimal lifestyle and aesthetic- a big change compared to my pre-fire lifestyle. (Probably because it was impossible to even be minimal with so much sh*t.) So now I ask myself, is this “thing” worthy of my highly-competitive counter or closet space?
What’s this things story?
Knowing the story behind something makes me feel good. Do I appreciate how it was made, the materials used, the company or artist behind it? All these things make me feel like I’m investing in more than a product- a community that I’m proud to support.
Do I ask myself these questions with every single purchase I make? Not yet. I buy chips from 7-11 almost every day and don’t think twice (but wince when I throw the bag away). I’m only human. But if even 50 percent of the time I’m making intentional purposes, that’s 50 percent less crap I get to de-clutter from my house and ultimately my brain- freeing up valuable space to be creative and share it with the world.