Adventures in moving cross country- Volume 14: The backbreaking art of decluttering

Decluttering is not something I have historically been awesome that. By most standards, I would be considered a pack rat. Not quite a hoarder, but if we didn't change trajectory and I were to find myself alone with nothing to do but collect cats and funny crap, it could easily go that way.

It was super important to us though, that we start fresh with this move and bring as little as possible with is. For a time there, we were even considering adding a hitch to our Prius and taking a small UHaul trailer for the move. After seeing Agent's VW Golf almost scraping bottom with it's trailer, I am glad we didn't go that route.

After about 18 years of living in Eugene, I had accumulated a ridiculous amount of useless (to me) crap. The mindset to get rid of it was easy enough, a good chunk of our belongings had lived in the garage for the full 3 years we lived at our rented house. But the actual act of going through and getting rid of things was daunting.

The first step we took was to post things that might actually have decent value on Craigslist. Since James and I met on Craigslist (a post for another time) this was a somewhat manageable chore. It was mostly alright because I made James do it. He put up with the endless flakes and ridiculous questions and actually made a few dollars off it all.

One of the most impressive feats was when he posted our entire library of books, title by title. After I grabbed about 40 of them for an excited co-worker, and a few random folks came and grabbed their favorites, he was able to offload the remaining 200 or so to a single person.

We love books, but came to realize that we would likely never read the ones we had again- they were just weighting us down. We did keep about 20 of our favorites that had sentimental value or that were signed to us by the authors.

The next step was a yard sale. At this point I was already so exhausted by the thought of a yard sale, that I came up with a ride ridiculous plan- we wouldn't post any prices on anything and it would be one day only. Instead, folks would just donate whatever they felt like and take our crap. James didn't get it. He was genuinely distressed that we weren't even going to try to make money. But in my mind, having everything gone was more important.

Glitter mistakes are the best mistakes!

It turns out that I had stumbled upon the perfect recipe for THE MOST AWKWARD YARD SALE EVER! The most common conversation during the one day event went like this:
(Stranger) So what do you want for this chair?
(Me) whatever you want to give me.
(Me) No really, like the sign says, we'll take any offer.
(Me) This stuff is literally going to St. Vinny's after today, we just want to get rid of it all.
(Stranger) Sooooo........
(Me) Seriously, like $2 is fine, whatever you want to do.

I sold a lot of things for $2 that day. It turns out that people feel like might offend you by low balling the crap you don't want- that you literally refer to as crap. We did end up making around $500 though, so no regerts on the awkwardness of the situation.

Bucky enjoyed having our yard shop for a day!

The yard sale was the day before the last party we threw in Eugene. (It sounds pretentious to throw our own going away party for, right?) So we had a requirement that anyone who hadn't attended the yard sale would have to walk through the yard sale garage and take at least one thing. Many people took many things, so that worked nicely.

About a week later, I had another genius idea- instead of just hauling everything left over from the yard sale, we would post a SUPER MEGA FREE PILE! Using Craigslist and cross posting on local buy & sell groups. This time, it was my derby wife, Shannon, which was incredulous about the viability of the plan. Sure, we were out camping and there was plenty of alcohol involved in my bravado about just how awesome it would be, but none of us would have imagined the reality when the plan was put in motion.

First, I pulled everything out of the garage that was left from the yard sale. Then added a few things that we knew we're going from the house.

Very loose organization going on here.

Please paw through my belongings!

At approximately 8:15pm local time, I posted the ad to Craigslist with some pics and a description of "HUGE Free Pile- come & get it ALL!" And a brief description including- extremely clear directions that I was busy moving and folks would just have to come down and take a look. I quickly posted my CL ad into a FB Eugene Buy & Sell group, as well as on my personal FB and IG profiles.

Within 20 minutes there were already 7 people in my driveway, rifling through the stuff. I thought that Craigslist people were bad at reading comprehension, turns out Facebook is even worse. I was berated with private messages asking all sorts of silly questions about if I had this or that or whether I would hold onto stuff for them. The only person I responded to was a few hours later in the evening who was concerned that I might call the cops if she came by at night. I assured her it was fine.

In the morning I woke up at 6:30 to find about 98% of the crap gone. It was a free pile miracle!

The moral of the story is to not poop on my awesome ideas.

Throughout the following week, as we cleaned out and boxed up the kitchen, bathroom, closets, etc., Anything that had more use in it would go out into the remaining free pile. I had pulled the post from CL & FB but left the sign up for passerbys. The majority of the stuff was taken.

In our last few days, we organized some dump runs to get rid of all the stuff that really was garbage. Old mattresses that we had gotten way too many years of use out of, cardboard that was not able to maintain box status anymore and way too many trinkets and moments that meant little more than a week smile in remembrance of their origin. All of this we organized and recylcled where we could. The dump in Eugene has pretty great recycling options, so I didn't feel like a total monster.

In the end we were able limit what we moved to a 16' Penske truck that had our washer, dryer, freezer and a single layer of boxes with some artwork stacked on top. For the most part, our belongings from Oregon fit into half of a 10'x12' room.

It's such a freeing feeling to not be weighted down with all of the STUFF that we had. Of course, we are already well into the process of getting new stuff, but it's deliberate now. We aren't picking up free chairs just because they are free. We're considering how each item will fit into our lives as a whole.

Please comment with your genius decluttering ideas!


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