Moving: A Blessing in Disguise?

Packed Boxes Ready for MovingMoving—especially to smaller living quarters—can be a blessing in disguise. It forces us to take stock of possessions and purge (or, if you prefer, edit or curate) them. You know the old saying about rolling stones and moss. Moving every few years really keeps the metaphorical moss from gathering.

I moved several times after I was married in 1970, but always to a larger house. I’d throw away some stuff, but generally needed every stick of furniture we owned.

Downsizing Has Its Benefits

The first time I had to downsize was in 1993. My husband had died the year before and I was going from a five-bedroom house to a three-bedroom condo. I did the usual: had a garage sale, threw away tons of stuff, donated tons of stuff, and gave each of my best friends a keepsake from the house in memory of the good times we’d had there. For weeks before my move, I would lie awake, mentally shuffling and reshuffling my furniture from room to room. That helped me to decide what to keep and what to chuck. And by moving day, I knew exactly where I wanted everything to go.

One brainstorm I had was to send the living room furniture out to be reupholstered in advance of the move. The upholsterer picked it up from the old house and delivered it to the new condo. It made moving day a bit shorter.

The second time I downsized was in 2002. I was moving from the condo to an apartment. There was a new man in my life and we were furnishing from scratch (although I did manage to incorporate a few favorite things into the décor).

A lot of furniture would go to Married Elder Daughter in Virginia, who conveniently had just moved to a larger house. At her request, the living room upholstered pieces would go into storage for then-College Student Younger Daughter’s future first apartment. (They’re now happily ensconced in Brooklyn.) I gave each of Younger Daughter’s best friends a keepsake from the house in memory of the good times they’d had there. And since I had a lot of lead time before the transition, I decided it would be possible to declutter easily and effectively by throwing away one object a day for a year. After all, that would mean I could shed 365 objects without straining either my back or the backs of the local trash collectors.

I thought it was a great plan. Doesn’t 365 items sound like a lot?

I started in the kitchen, which is Clutter Central in most homes. But one dull potato peeler plus one broken camera plus one unused cookbook really don’t amount to much. Ultimately, at the end of the year, I still had to go the route of the garage sale, the donations, the gifts, and the last major purge. And, truth be told, I still have some stuff on the top shelf of my clothes closet—I’m not sure what—that’s been boxed up for 11 years.

I’m not planning on moving again any time soon. And my next move probably will be to an assisted living facility. But I think I should pretend that I’m moving. It will force me to go through those boxes—and maybe even the rest of the apartment. It could turn out to be like Christmas. Hope so. I certainly don’t want it to become a private episode of the TV show Hoarders.