Lately, I’ve thought about this often. When was I the happiest? And how do I get back there? Every time I ask, I come up with the same answer: When I had nothing.
See, after my divorce, I had precious little. I had a futon for a couch and that I borrowed from my parents. Then I got a couch and a chair and borrowed a table. When I moved I gave the borrowed stuff back, then I moved in with my parents while I went back to school and lived in the basement with a few pieces of furniture and a ridiculously large bed for a basement (that I still own TYVM. I also still own one of the couches.) I had no closet. I had one dresser (from my childhood) and a pole hung up for clothes. It was kind of awesome except it wasn’t my own space.
At the time, I had no debt. I paid cash for everything and put money into savings. I worked like hell to pay everything off so I could go to school full time and only work 1-2 days a week for 2 years. I didn’t have a credit card.
When I moved in with my husband, I had my clothes in baskets because I gave my dresser to my daughter to use in her room. He had a walk in closet so I hung up what could be hung. It wasn’t until I was pregnant with our twins that I got a dresser and put my socks in drawers instead of a basket.
At first we only had one couch and that was plenty. He had a table. We put the old bed in my son’s room and my big bed finally fit somewhere! (one of those 4 poster things that was my fantasy bed I bought on a whim not realizing the basement ceiling was WAY too short). I was happy.
Life always seems greener on the other side though. Things started accumulating. A house has the weird habit of drawing things into it to fit its size. Houses don’t seem to like empty space. They want to be filled. We now have 2 couches. And a bigger table.
As the twins outgrew things, down to sheol (the basement) they went. Pretty soon we barely had room at the bottom of the stairs. Everything else we didn’t have time to deal with also went down there. It took us a while after we caught up on some sleep and could think again to dig out the basement. The Thrifty Shopper is our best friend.
Then the children got bigger and their stuff invaded our living space because they can carry it in and can’t seem to also carry it out. “It’s too heavy!” is the lament. Amazing how it was so light when you brought it into the room… The toys seem to multiply daily while we are sleeping. I now have fantasies of the place burning down so I no longer have to deal with it. I keep important stuff in a fireproof safe just in case…
Amazingly, I used to be a clutter bug. In some ways I still am (books anyone?There is just something about PAPER books. Sorry Kindle.). For the most part though, clutter makes me want to scream. I hate stuff. Every day that I come into the house and the table is covered (again) with kid papers and toys and crap I want to take my arm and clear it all off onto the floor and light a match. That should take care of it. My own office drives me nuts and its MY stuff!
I try to recycle the seemingly endless amount of paper that the school wants to shove down our throats because they couldn’t be kind enough to recycle itself, but my husband takes it and hides it somewhere so that in 20 years my children can have the task of recycling it themselves. See, see what we saved for you! Now take it to the dump! Schools are the ultimate hypocrites for teaching about environmentalism. Really? How about you kill less trees and stop sending me all these papers. You could probably reverse the hole in the ozone layer right there. I don’t even bother to read the stuff anymore. If it’s really important I assume they will send a reminder and someone will catch it. Thank G-D summer vacation is here.
I miss living out of a basket. I miss having smaller/less furniture. I miss having freedom from ownership.
Living with less really is living with more. More time. More space. More just being. More freedom. More room to breathe. More life.
My goal this year? Dump our remaining debt. Clean out the house. Learn to breathe again. Maybe I’ll start living out of a basket again too. My husband can have my dresser. It’s nicer than his anyway 😉