After writing multiple blogs about the wonderful rewards of downsizing, along with handy hints on how to go about it, I’ve been personally put to the test. And it’s humbling.
Our home for the last eighteen years went under contract as soon as it hit the market this spring, making the abstract concept of going from 4500 square feet of living space to a compact 1700 square feet a sudden and daunting reality. I tried pushing away the panic by reminding myself how great it will be, once the dust settles. But it’s that in between chaos time that can make you lose your mind.
First task: let go of stuff that is full of memories but no longer serving a purpose in our lives. No problem, I’ve got this I thought to myself. As a Realtor, I’ve helped many, many clients detach and move on, and I can do it too. First on the chopping block was our formal dining room table and chairs, where we had countless happy dinners with family and friends through the years. But on the morning when the interested buyer showed up to look at it, I completely melted down. How can we possibly part with something that played such an important role in our happy gatherings, I sobbed to my baffled husband. Poor guy. I could see the unspoken thought in his head: “uh oh, we’re in trouble”.
Mind you, I know how difficult downsizing is, as 100% of my clients were seriously stressed out when they did it. I would reassure them that it will all be fine once they let it all go and get settled into the new smaller house. “You can keep all those memories” I’d tell them, but you have to let go of all that “stuff” you no longer use. Well, my apologies to all of you. I now get how gut wrenching it can be to “move on” from your past life and embrace an unknown future without the comfort of your collected treasures, the physical embodiment of your memories.
But there’s no backtracking for my clients and there isn’t going to be any for us either. When I was in my twenties, arsonists burned my rental house down while I was out of town, and I lost all the possessions I had collected since I’d been out on my own. It took years for me to slowly realize the things I lost that day: my diary, quilts made by my grandmother, photographs…irreplaceable items. But downsizing quickly like that is definitely less painful than this slow, consider whether each item stays or goes, routine.
Once we get to the other side, I know I will feel lighter, freer, less encumbered by my “stuff”, just like I did after the fire, and just like all my clients do once they complete the downsizing process. But for now, I’m trying to figure out how to unclench my iron grip on the legs of this dining room table, so I can let it go.