Packing and Tossing: Decluttering as We Prepare to Move
A couple of weeks ago, I shared that my wife and I would be moving to a new apartment next month. While this move marks an upgrade for us, it’s also a downsize as we’ll be going to a one-bedroom unit from our current two-bedroom floorplan. Because of this, as we’ve been getting an early start on packing, we’ve also been tackling more decluttering projects in a bid to lighten the load we’re carrying to our new home.
Just as our initial round of projects taught me a few things about minimalism, this latest effort has come with its own highlights and tough moments alike. With that, here are some of the early-packing projects we’ve taken on so far along with a few insights we’ve gained as a result.
CDs and DVDs
Some of the easiest items to pack up early were also those most in need of some paring: CDs and DVDs. When I was younger, a good portion of the money that came into my possession went right to Target, The Wherehouse (yes, it was actually spelled that way), Zia, Hastings, or wherever else I could buy CDs and DVDs. And while I’ve made some efforts to dispatch with some films and albums I no longer cared for, my collections were still far too large and, what’s worse, not been utilized in some time — especially the CDs. Because of this, I knew that I’d be getting rid of a lot once I kicked off this project.
As expected, my compact disc downsizing was a near annihilation. I went from two full Bankers boxes plus a giant plastic tub filled with albums down to just a couple dozen selections. In order to remain, the CD needed to be signed and/or not easily available on streaming (e.g. local bands, imports, etc.). Since I don’t imagine anyone else really wants CDs these days, the literal hundreds of other discs went directly into the trash. I guess the 90s are officially over.
Surprisingly, I found the DVD discarding to be a much harder task. While there were some titles I could be easily convinced I’d never bother to watch, others weren’t so simple to write off. I think the key difference here is that, while most albums are available on multiple streaming services, the video streaming world is so fragmented that it’s hard to say if we’ll retain access to movies we love without subscribing to every last service. Nevertheless, I let myself get over this very 21st century problem and part with a good amount of movies and shows I had DVDs for. Moreover, we also made a pile of movies we want to watch/rewatch and then get rid of. So, with that, there’s more work to be done with this collection, but at least it’s smaller than it was and is all packed up.
Putting our clothes in suitcases
Another early packing project we realized we could undertake involved our clothes. Since, realistically, we won’t need the majority of our clothes over the next couple of weeks, we decided to get the rest ready for the move. Even better, rather than using boxes or bags, we employed our suitcases for the task. Plus, this is part of a plan we have for once we arrive at the new apartment.
Previously, I shared how I went through my closet and found several items to either trash or donate. Since then, I also went through my massive collection of t-shirts and did the same. Still, I know that there’s more that can be done. Thus, as we settle into the new apartment, we plan to only remove the clothes we need or want at a given time. By doing this, we’ll have a much better idea of which items we actually utilize and which are likely candidates for another round of donations. Granted, this could take some time seeing as the weather we’re currently experiencing will vary greatly from what we should be getting in a few months — but, after that, I’m sure we’ll have narrowed our wardrobes down considerably.
Another “death of a dream” moment
In his awesome book The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own, author Joshua Becker of the site Becoming Minimalist discusses something he called “death of a dream.” This term refers to getting rid of items that allude to a past hobby, aspiration, or even career and, in turn, bidding that dream goodbye as these items no longer prove fruitful to your life. I actually wrote a bit about my digital death of a dream moment a few months back as I cleared data from a short film I shot in college off of a hard drive I was getting rid of. Now, as I prepared to move, I had another, larger death of a dream moment.
Back in 2015, I wrote a book titled The E-Ticket Life all about my travels to different Disney Parks around the world and how those experiences impacted the course of my life (such as meeting my wife). Since I was debuting the book at that year’s D23 Expo — a convention hosted by the Official Disney Fan Club — I had high expectations… perhaps too high. Long story short, I ended up ordering far too many copies for that initial event and have held onto them ever since. In fact, these cases of books have now been shipped or driven on roundtrip cross-country journeys a total of three times when not collecting dust in my closet.
At this point, with the next Expo not until 2022 (delayed from this year), it just doesn’t make sense to try to get any more mileage out of these particular copies. Instead, if I want to keep selling the book, I need to update it… or at least fix the typos! So, yes, I let go of the dream that there will suddenly be a rush on these books I’ve done nothing with for six years and bid adieu to some of these paperbacks. That said, I did hold onto one case of books “just in case” — whatever that means. If nothing else, hopefully seeing that remaining brown box will serve as inspiration to revisit the project and prepare a revised edition for the next event.
When Bekah and I got married, our friend gifted us a kitchen table and chair set she purchased on Craigslist. For as basic as this set was, it served us well both in California and when we moved to Springfield. However, seeing as we’ll be going from two bedrooms to one and, thus, using the living room as an office, we’ve been thinking of ways to best utilize our space. Thankfully, we realized that our new kitchen includes a butcher’s block that can double as a table if we add a couple of stools to the other side (meanwhile, if we wanted to entertain, we could temporarily convert one of our desks or make use of the community room down the hall).
Following that revelation, we decided to break down our current table and chairs as we won’t be taking them with us to the new place. As an added bonus of this strategy, the space where the table once was has now been transformed into a “staging area” of sorts where we’ve been able to put packed boxes as we complete them. This has worked out extremely well and really helped us as we prepare for the move.
“Are you sure?”
Lastly, as we’ve been decluttering, my wife and I have noticed an interesting dynamic that occurred between us. When I was ready to head down to the dumpster with my boxes of CDs and asked for her help, she looked at all I was getting rid of and asked, “are you sure?” After a slight pause, I assured her that I was and we completed the task. A couple of days later, I saw that she had a NASA souvenir set aside in her trash pile. Knowing how much she loves all things space, my immediate response was “are you sure you want to get rid of this?” Yes, for some reason, it seems that we have more of an attachment to the other partners’ stuff than they do!
As a loving husband, I want me wife to be happy. In turn, I guess I feel like my sudden interest in minimalism is pressuring her to discard items she’s not ready to part with. Apparently, she must have similar feelings, as shown by her concern over my CD dump. To me, this presents an interesting dilemma where I want to ensure that we’re on the same page about what we’re getting rid of but also find it easier to ditch items on my own.
Now that we’ve acknowledged this ironic tendency, I don’t see it slowing us down as we continue decluttering. Still, I think this is something that couples should be aware of as they embark on similar undertakings. Overall, I’m glad we had those conversations as it solidified the fact that we’re both committed to living a more minimalist life and that these bittersweet moments will sweeten with time.
As we prepare to relocate to a smaller (but nicer!) apartment, our move toward minimalism is also intensifying. To that point, the ability to take our time packing and declutter along the way has been a blessing so far. Hopefully, as our efforts continue, our new apartment will be a more minimalist and happier place, giving us a fresh start once again.