I struggle to throw things away, but the prospect of downsizing (again) concentrates the thinking.
We live in the Cambridgeshire fens with a large garden that includes two fishponds, hedges that need trimming, sheds and decking that need regular preservative. There will come a time (I see it on the horizon…) when maintenance here gets too much for us.
When I married my present husband, I was still working in London and living in the suburbs during the week. Retirement brought me to the fens full-time but, since most of our collective offspring live and work in and around London, I traded my home for a small mortgage-free ground floor maisonette to give us a base near the families. It has a a small, manageable garden. When we can no longer cope with this one, we will move to the maisonette (no stairs!) but it will involve a serious cull of our belongings.
The suits I once wore for work and to interviews all went to charity shops soon after retirement, but that still leaves a stuffed wardrobe. I have outfits I’ve hardly worn suitable for the kind of event we don’t go out to any more.
But, what if we should suddenly get such an invite? I can never find anything I like if I have to go shopping for clothes.
Most of these outfits probably don’t fit me now, if they ever did. I am slowly working my way through, trying things on, but it can make for a depressing half-hour. (Or, sometimes, half an hour of hilarity.) I was always on the cusp of losing just that last ten pounds and tended to buy clothes in a spirit of optimism, believing that this purchase would provide the extra incentive I needed.
I know myself better now.
Then there are those jeans I love but pass over every time because they’re getting uncomfortable. (It’s as if there’s some kind of body valve – only a couple of pounds each year, but the weight only goes in one direction.) And that top I bought in the sale that somehow is never quite right for what I want it to go with.
My husband even worse than I am. He has never thrown out any clothes since we moved in, even though he is now a shadow of his former self; I’ll swear some suits would wrap around him twice.
Don’t get me started on his ties which would fill a small suitcase on their own.
It isn’t only clothes we have in abundance. We both moved out of larger family homes so there is no shortage of furniture, some of which has moved between premises. And sometimes back again.
Something in the maisonette would have to go for each item from here that I want to keep if/when we downsize. Like the bedroom furniture in the spare room that my youngest daughter and I assembled together when she came back from university to my first downsized home. It was designed for the smaller bedroom, but the maisonette is extremely bijoux (see how I’ve picked up estate-agent-speak).
And, of course, each home has cutlery, cooking pots, crockery and gadgets (I love gadgets) from our respective family homes. (His ex maxed out his credit cards equipping her new home before she left, and my ex moved in to his girlfriend’s home, so we have almost all of it). Our various offspring have long since set up their own homes and no longer need our handouts to equip them.
I’ve been able to put off the cull for twelve years by squirrelling possessions between two homes, to make me seem less of a hoarder. But, with the prospect getting nearer, I am getting better at letting go (I tell myself).
But hubby has a way to go yet.
The real challenge will be his garage and workshop. When he moved in here, his youngest son helped us unpack, consigning old bits of wood and suchlike to the skip left by the former owner that was still awaiting collection. My husband rescued every one, in case “they might come in useful”, transporting them to a shed. Most of it is still there.
Perhaps we need a course in feng shui to introduce a more minimalist philosophy to our life.