Downsizing: How Many Coffee Makers Does One Couple Need?

Posted General Ramblings

I am amazed at how much stuff we manage to collect. Things we’re given or things we think we want or need that are eventually forgotten about and left to collect dust. Three computers that haven’t been turned on in years. An SLR camera that takes 35mm film. A book of CDs with music I might be embarrassed to admit I once listened to. 25+ plastic containers from Chinese takeout. Don’t judge.

Though we don’t plan on purging everything before we leave, we are trying to get rid of the non-essentials and only hold on to the things we really need, things that will be difficult or expensive to replace when we get back, and things with sentimental value.

Take the DVD collection. Thanks to Netflix, I very rarely actually watch movies on DVD. In fact, our DVD player was broken for about six months and I barely noticed. Do I really need a hard copy of Taken or Oceans 11? Maybe I’ll hold onto the Alien boxed set for a little while longer. Those are classics, after all.

The mismatched dishes and three different coffee makers will go, but the canning rig stays. (A true Gemini, the opposite side of this nomadic traveler is an aspiring homesteader.) Most of the backpacking gear that doesn’t find a place in the van will stay. So far I’ve donated three big garbage bags full of clothes and I’m sure there will be more before this is over. We already got rid of our couches, so that makes that easy. I’m sure we’ll offload a few more pieces of furniture as well.

The most difficult things for me to downsize? Books and yarn.

The book addiction I blame on my mother. I can’t help it. Even if I know I’m probably never going to re-read a book, I still have a hard time giving it up. There is something very comforting about walking into a room and seeing a shelf full of books. Whenever I move into a new house or apartment, my book collection is the first thing I unpack. They feel like home.

And yarn… I know it sounds silly, but getting rid of yarn feels like I’m giving up on the potential of what that yarn could become. Do I need 8 skeins of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran? Well… no. But what if I find a pattern for a cozy sweater that looks easy enough that I might convince myself I could actually finish it and it would be perfect in that Cashmerino? Nevermind the fact that I already have two sweaters in progress that are sitting in a basket in my living room. It could still happen. I could still be one of those knitters that actually finishes big projects. Maybe that’s what I feel like I’m giving up. The potential to become that kind of knitter, the one who can churn out elaborate pieces in a flash, whose sweater and scarf collections are the envy of all her friends, who is committed to cause of covering the world with custom hand-knits. On the other hand, maybe it’s just that homesteader mentality to save everything because you never know when you might need it.

I keep telling myself that this will be a good exercise in detachment. We are not defined by our possessions. Having a smaller yarn stash will not make me a bad knitter. Letting go of the things I’m not will allow me to be the person I am. How Zen of me.

So if anyone wants that SLR camera or copy of Oceans 11 on DVD, just let me know. I promise I won’t judge you for acquiring more stuff.