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too much stuffWhen Kenny and I decided to sell our house of nine years this winter, our thought was that we would try out the current boomer trend of downsizing: going from a charming, but high-maintenance little house that we loved, to a smaller, less time-consuming place that would free us up to get out and do something other than work in the yard or on never-ending home renovation projects. (Although Kenny did point out that many of those projects wouldn’t have existed if I hadn’t decided to rearrange the furniture or move some wall pictures around, resulting in a steady stream of less-than-successful outcomes that invariably became weekend repair projects for him, AND that since I would be moving with him to the new house, he wasn’t exactly sure he was coming out ahead on this move. But in the interest of marital harmony, I’m choosing to ignore that particular comment for now.)

Anyway, we decided to really reduce our monthly homeowning obligations for a year or two and just rent, while we leisurely looked around for something we wanted to buy. We found a cute, clean, inexpensive rental in a great location, so we promptly plunked down 1st and last, packed up the Chihuahuas, and moved in.

The Great Question became what to do with our stuff. Furniture and belongings that once filled a house, a garage, and an attic were never going to fit into the rental. Kenny was adamant that he didn’t want to have to re-buy all our worldly goods six months down the road when we found a house to buy, so we packed it all up and put it in storage until we decided if the rental life was for us.

Three months later, we’re two peas in a little snowpod and loving it. Kenny looked at me one morning over breakfast and announced, “I think we should have a garage sale. Let’s sell all that stuff we’ve got in storage.” Since I’ve never been a big believer in paying to store crap you don’t ever use, I promptly agreed, and we hopped in the car to go inventory our stash for the big day.

We happily spent the next several hours cataloging and pricing a dizzying variety of junk we once went into debt at 29% to buy, to sell for 10 cents on the dollar (and millennium kids wonder why our generation is broke). Treadmill/coat rack? Used once. Gone. Mismatched plate set? Always drove me nuts. To-go pile. Enough Christmas decorations to righteously do up the White House? Kids are grown, and we now spend Christmas at the beach. In the pile. A variety of appliances that don’t work? Since Kenny is neither a mechanic nor an electrician, buh-bye. Souvenir wine glasses from our Washington wineries tour? The boomer version of collectible state spoons. Nope. Skis/boots/poles? Haven’t skied since before we bought the house we just sold. Why the hell do we still have these?? Old bedding sets from the last four times I changed colors in all the bedrooms? Even Goodwill won’t take bedding. Five bucks says they’re yours.

Finally we came across six boxes of hardback books from a large bookcase permanently installed in our old living room. In these days of Nooks and Kindles, we decided to simply donate all the books to the local library rather than haggling over the 50 cents we may or may not get for each book (all. day. long.) The next day, I stopped to drop them off, and a charming young man with a beautiful smile opened the door for me and reached to take the first box out of my hands. “Wait here, pretty lady” he instructed, “and I’ll help you take these downstairs.”

Being a total sucker for flattery (however cheesy), I smiled back, feeling all young and girly, and watched as he as he bounded over to my car to get the remaining boxes. He easily ran them down the stairs to the Donation Department, then came back up, and with a grin and an arm flourish, proceeded to take my arm and help me down the stairs.

As I was processing that this was the mortifying Boy Scout equivalent of helping an old lady across the street, he then brought it home with, “You know, my grandmother fell down some stairs once and it took her a long time to heal, so you need to be careful.”

Your grandmother?? How old is your mother, you wet-behind-the-ears little puppy?? Like, 30?? Admittedly, the linoleum stairs were oddly steep, but YOUR GRANDMOTHER?? I waited until the last step and had an “accidental” stumble, accidentally giving baby boy a swift kick in the shins. That was for his grandma. The elbow to his stomach? That was for me.

Grandma’s still got it.

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