Here's the great thing about helping other people move: You get to do the easy part, the carting boxes from house to truck or truck to house, and then you leave. You get thanks and appreciation without even having to do the sucky parts, like pack every last one of your possessions into cardboard boxes or staring wonderingly at all your stuff, trying to figure out where all this crap came from. And don't even get me started on unpacking. You're already tired from packing and driving and cleaning out the new space so it can be all spick and span and ready for your own family to spread its own unique brand of filth around- now you get to unpack and try to find a place for all this junk. And by "junk," I mean the stuff belonging to every other member of your family. Their stuff is crap. Yours is treasure.
The other marvelous effect helping others move has on me is that when I get home, I am in hardcore purge mode. What if we have to move soon? Do I like all these things enough that I'd be willing to ask friends and family to move it from here to there? Is this Thing so important to me that I want to wrap it in newspaper, put it in a box, put that box in a truck, send it on a long voyage, take the box off the truck, take the Thing out of the box, unwrap the newspaper, and find a place to store it yet again? I mean, criminy, our children are barely worth all that work, let alone my second-best medium-sized saucepan.
That is why, last night, I could be found rummaging through our kitchen cabinets and DVDs and bathroom cupboard, looking for things to be rid of and muttering vague nothings to myself about minimalism and possibly something about the Swedish. Are they the minimalist ones? I can never remember. One of those cold places with ugly modern architecture. (I can almost promise you Derek is either wincing or pursing his lips or both right now.)
The thing is, we don't have that much excess stuff to get rid of. I did a major, whole-house, several-month-long purge a year or two ago, the first time I read the book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. (Hey, guys, remember when I wouldn't stop talking about that book and peer pressured/coerced/forced all my friends to read it? Man, that was fun. For me.) Loads of stuff went out our front door, and it felt incredible. I highly recommend getting rid of your stuff.
As I went around the house last night and today, however, I realized the value in making a second pass over all your precious possessions and your family's junk: You may be less attached to it now, you may not use it anymore, or you may pull that cast iron snowflake mini cake pan out of your kitchen cabinet and say to yourself, "Hey, Self, remember when you refused to get rid of this a year ago because you swore that this was going to be the winter you made darling little snowflake-shaped cakes dusted with powdered sugar? This makes... what, six years in a row that that didn't happen, right? Make your peace with a future devoid of little cakes, because this sucker is gone. Farewell, miniature snowflake cake pan!"
Then you'll put it in the Adieu pile, and it will be like a spell breaking. Why on earth were you so attached to that thing? You hardly ever make cakes, anyway! You're more of a cookie or pie kind of woman, and if you do make cakes, you use your humble 8-inch round pans like God and your Better Homes and Gardens cookbook intended! BEGONE, SNOWFLAKE CAKE PAN. YOUR POWER NO LONGER HOLDS SWAY HERE.
I'm going through the kids' toys tomorrow. Please ignore any wailing or tearful pleading you hear issuing from our house.