Today is our last day in our home in New York and also a blue moon. I’ve tried to work in a ‘once in a blue moon’ reference in this post but couldn’t do it without making it cheesy.
I’ve attempted several times this week to post about the packing and purging process but I haven’t been able to finish a post. My first attempt was a rant against the tremendous amount of stuff in this house and living in a culture that treats material possessions and economic wealth as a right. I mean seriously what have I been doing for three years? Filling every closet and corner with stuff? Why didn’t anyone stop me? Anyway it wasn’t a good post.
This week we dragged everything out of the house and had a garage ‘take what you want’ sale. Our friends, neighbors and family showed up to sort through the remnants of our life here. It felt great to be getting rid of so much stuff to me, but I noticed not everyone in my house shared the same disgust of the amount of things we had accumulated and the joy to see it go.
“That was the first piece of furniture we bought and put together when we were married” was Dave’s off handed comment as he watched a bookshelf be carried away. I never knew him to be sentimental about things and I unkindly teased him so.
“Stuff has memories.” He said simply, immune to my teasing, as he turned away from the carnage of memories in our garage.
Our son (who has turned 5 during this whole house moving process. We have a 5 year old!) was not taking the stuff purge well at all. I’m beginning to suspect that gifts and stuff have a more significant meaning to him then simply things. I do vaguely remember as a kid feeling a connection to my toys and things as friends, Toy Story and Velveteen Rabbit style. So despite the months of prepping we have done to prepare him it was too much to see other kids walking away and playing with things that used to be his. “Wait!”, he told me when she saw more children walking into the garage,”Let me show them the stuff that I don’t care about, they can have that.”
As the week wore on even I, the self-proclaimed stuff hater, began to feel some sort of emotional connection with our things. Giving away the picnic basket we got for our wedding was the end of romantic picnics with my husband. Even though we haven’t been on a romantic picnic since, oh I don’t know.. before children, with the picnic basket around there was always the possibility that it could happen. Getting rid of the crib is the end of the babyhood stage of our lives. Getting rid of the craft supplies is the recognition that I will never actually make a scrapbook. For me, and I think Dave too, having the right stuff seemed to impart a sort of identity that we wouldn’t have without the stuff. I am the girl who cans her own food, Dave is the guy who changes his own oil. I can pretend I am a snowboarder because I have all the right stuff. We could be table tennis champs because we have all the right gear, in reality we never play. Even our careers and family roles come with stuff attached to them, law books, medical texts, cookbooks. Dave, who was full of profundities this week, drove this point home for me when he said, “there goes all the stuff I need to be a good husband,” as a guy hauled off with a tote bin of tools and car maintenance junk.
So we move tomorrow morning, stripped down of things that we use to create an identity for ourselves and carrying only the identity that God gave us, co-heirs with Christ. Jesus was pretty clear about this whole issue when he told us to sell all our stuff and follow him. We can’t fake our identity as children of God by carrying around the right stuff, we don’t have to have the right tools to make disciples of all nations. There is nothing tangible that we need, that God hasn’t taken care of. It helps to have that foundation to return to and to know who I am as a daughter of God as I work through this little pseudo identity crisis of things.
We still have a couple more weeks before we fly out, but tonight we will sleep for the last time at 477 Rugby which is only something you do…..once in blue moon ;-P
Oh, Hannah, I love this post. How I struggle with so much of this that you’ve discussed. We are soon going to have to do the exact same thing as you have just done. I’m thankful for your reminder that God gives us all we need to do what He has called us to do and that “all we need” does not require stuff. I’m praying for you as you start your next adventure! We love you guys!!
This of course makes me emotional. But that stuff wasn’t my stuff, what makes me tear up is the place. That place is where we had Christmas, and bridal showers, and birthday parties, and random morning cups of coffee or random late night beers :-p I remember Hudson showing me his Buzz Lightyear, and building a Hexbug city, and saving Fidel from an open door, and holding sweet baby Elis, and taking awkward family photos. I love you. You are a stronger woman then I am.
You are totally right. It is the place that has more memories than the stuff will ever have. We have got to stop making each other cry like this. ;-P
Great post, Hannah! Obviously, I identify :) I still haven’t quite figured out what to do with my box of old photos, empty albums, and scrapbook supplies that haven’t been touched in years…somehow, that stuff is the hardest for me, I think.
So, I logged onto your blog Dave, only to find that you have a wonderful blog with humorous and spiritually challenging posts; however you have no way to financially contribute to your cause – as I was told. Please let me know how we can contribute. I love you guys and we had a really awesome time with you this weekend.
Thanks! Love you guys too. Check out the ‘About’ page on the top. There is a little link that has out support information. :-)
As a participant in your de-stuffing, it’s good to hear the back story. Thanks for sharing. You’re leading us in a dress rehearsal for what is inevitable for all of us when we will “let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also”.