Downsizing During COVID

I have been trying to downsize. Not an easy thing to do. When you own a house, there’s always a place to squirrel away more stuff than you need. For years and years, I have surrounded myself with cherished objects, saved old birthday cards, photos, and stuff that I just couldn’t bear to throw away. Rather than discard things, I’d put them in a box headed for the garage, and, then, like Scarlett O’Hara “I’ll think about it tomorrow.” This has worked pretty well over the years—safely kept but out of sight items of remembrance. The downside, of course, is that my two-car garage has never seen a car in it. Now the day of reckoning has come. Like many Americans, COVID has kept me in my house with plenty of time to poke through boxes. It’s an amazing journey. A college thesis written by my father in 1929 about the Great Depression. It could have been written today. A Guy Lombardo program from Jones Beach in the fifties. A gift card from dad to mom on the birth of their first child. Do people call each other “dearest“ anymore? What does one do with a silver tea service?

My diploma from Far Rockaway High school which no longer exists. Files and papers from a 50-year career. Spare ceramic tiles and grout leftovers from every remodeled bathroom. What was I thinking? If a tile cracked, could I even find the box of tile among the clutter? Papers, letters, taxes, receipts, instructions I never read for an appliance I no longer own, reports and report cards, a premie daughter’s cradle, sets of grandma’s dishes that I kept for kids who really didn’t want them.

Bicycles, fans, lamps waiting to be rewired, notebooks and sketchbooks, a program from Leonard Bernstein’s young people’s concerts when I was ten, tattered newspaper clippings of Kennedy’s death and Nixon’s resignation, WWII ration books, a leather Air Force jacket in perfect shape. We were a generation who kept things, who fixed things, who saved things. A dumpster full of memories. We used to have tag sales before COVID. Now, not even the Salvation Army wants your old, but still good, stuff. Memorabilia was at one time a treasured thing. Now no one wants the remnants of your life. Yes. It’s a new world.