Fasten your seat belts, Spring has arrived. Its time to clean: just open the drawers, organize the cabinets and wash the family vehicle. Pull out the hose, back the car out of the garage and…wait, my car is on the street. Why isn’t the car in the garage?
We have an oversized two car garage! A dream come true for anyone living in the city or a suburban life with children. A garage, the walled and roofed building adjacent or attached to a home used for storing vehicles. What a great concept. No more hunting for spaces, no rain on your Honda after you just washed it; you’ll no longer have to shovel two feet of snow or ice off the windshields.
At our house, “the garage is dead to me.” I can’t get in. It is piled with chairs, light fixtures, holiday decorations, books, bikes and lawn mowers. I work in an elementary school so once a year during Spring break, I spend five to seven days sorting, compiling and hauling items from that valuable space. It’s a hidden dungeon of family and prior owner relics. We just can’t seem to make improvements. Some members of the family think that we might need the old rusty tools or lamps because they “might be worth something”, so we keep them.
I know that we are not alone. Just this week, Carlos Lozada of the Washington Post reviewed a book titled, Empire of Things, How We Became a World of Consumers, from the Fifteenth Century to the Twenty-First, by Frank Trentmann. The author thinks we are consumers; that is our identity and we came by it historically because the author argues that personal collecting is found as far back as the people in Renaissance Italy. We simply keep consuming and accumulating.
The prior owner of our home left many items. We agreed to let her leave them because we knew it was difficult to deal with a lifetime of belongings to move across country. Then my parents gave me their furniture when downsizing. After that my husbands parents moved, so more items. Of course we collected our own “treasures” from estate sales and yard sales as our family grew. Before you knew it: a huge collection of items that arrived at the last stop in our home, the garage.
Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing is a bestseller. In it the author directs you to ask when you hold an object, “does it spark joy?” Apparently there are a lot of people finding joy in their garages.
So, now what to do? First, pretend you are moving. The day you leave, many of those garage trinkets will be given away at a very stressful time. Do it in advance. Second, because you are pretending to move, take a moment to see if someone in the family will benefit from some of your family heirlooms. Then, call Goodwill. Third, put the items on Craigslist, letgo: Buy and Sell Second Hand Stuff or Zupa:Buying and Selling Made Easy. Yard sale preparation is very time consuming and requires muscle. I’ve found that the money is often not worth the time invested, having done several myself.
Yes, my garage is dead to me now; but, I have begun the journey towards bringing it back to life again. Our county allows for several special trash pickups each year and last week I did my first one for 2016. All the objects that I cannot pass on will be placed on the curb, little by little. One project a day, after work and on the weekend will push me a bit closer to an organized life and of course seeing my ride off the curb!