I read minimalist blogs in my free time. I recommend it, there is something rather cathartic reading about other people shedding 90 per cent of their possessions.
We’re close enough to our Italian end to allow me to begin thinking about what will have to happen to our many things next year. So while I can’t depart on my summer holidays just yet, I can become an imaginary minimalist instead, and turn my attention to a mental reorganisation. For example, the cupboard full of polenta and a multitude of flours (chestnut, rice, 00, american, almond, chickpea, coconut – gah! how did this happen!?). In my head I’m planning baking and reconciling myself to all polenta meals we’re going to eat once the weather cools.
There are many travel stories around internet of how ‘I sold everything I owned and packed the rest into a suitcase’ theme. What they are failing to mention, aside from the storage held at a parent’s/friend’s, is that culling huge amounts of possessions is hugely liberating and satisfying (those precious heirlooms/childhood mementos/important irreplaceable papers/books/always books an obvious exception or things that cannot be thrown away). Everything that has ever been held onto because of reasons – such as how much it cost or who gifted it or this hasn’t worn out yet(!) – is suddenly weighted on different merits. Like, how much does it weigh? Do I like this enough to physically carry it half way around the world?
And so, although we still have something like another 10 months to go, I’m already doing the mental arithmetic. I get great joy from knowing that my motley legging collection, currently showing signs of wear and tear, can be thrown away. One of those pairs is nearing its fifth birthday, a sure sign that, really, I prefer to not wear leggings. So the leggings will go. As will a rather hideous summer dress, after paying its final dues as a rather hideous house dress.
If we move cross continent with a car, those pots and plates and the blender come with us. If we must fly, they will be offered to people who know people setting up flats. If our landlords don’t want any of the furniture we have bought, that goes to one of Rovereto’s two second hand stores. Any usable clothes, to Trento’s fill a bag second hand clothing store. Those unlovely leggings and summer dresses may get used as cleaning cloths before trashed. How many polenta meals will be eaten before the flour cupboard is bare? Some books have already gone, to a free book window ledge in the old town. The not-inconsiderable pile that remain will be one of our biggest problems next year. As will my collection of overnight bags.
Mental tidying up, oh how satisfying it is.
I have read enough about The Joy of Tidying Up without actually reading it to know that, according to its author, I should only retain those things that I love. But those things that I don’t love don’t automatically disappear once they are collected on green bag rubbish collection day (that’s the one for actual trash; each type of rubbish or recycling has its own special day), and I feel guilty creating landfill out of usable but unsalable items. And so, I will hang on to those unlovely and unloved things, but I will look forward to not having them anymore.