I was fortunate enough to have today off work, courtesy of Presidents' Day, so I'd driven up to upstate NY for the long weekend to see M. Since he has just relocated up to the "North Country" region, we'd signed a lease for a townhouse up there, & he physically moved in on February 1st, with just a couple of car-loads of belongings at that time. Sadly, however, the removal company delivered the rest of his life there last week. He warned me in advance that the whole downstairs area was completely filled with boxes, but I really wasn't quite prepared for the true extent of the carnage until I was face to face with the demons!
|The floor space here was really the only free space available downstairs!|
My heart sank when I walked in & saw all the boxes. I already knew that M was a hoarder, but I wasn't quite fully prepared for the full extent of it, & I knew it was going to be a very "long weekend"! M is a total procrastinator, although he does work well when motivated, & especially when he sees rewards from his labor.
I knew that if we were going to make any real headway here, I was going to have to find some happy medium between lighting a fire under his ass & hanging back & making the purging seem like it was his idea.
I used to think I was a pack-rat until this past weekend. Does anyone else own 3 clothes irons? And truthfully, with all the kitchenware I opened, you'd think Martha Stewart lived there - and I reminded him of this as I was trying to break my way into the kitchen through the pizza boxes & empty Arby's bags…..
Dozens of the boxes were literally filled with paperwork just thrown into them - receipts, unopened magazines & newspapers from many years ago, photos, random things like pens, pencils, notepads. You name it, it was probably there. And in multiples of multiples. I didn't know how the weekend was going to pan out.
The first day was a hard slog. You know how it feels when you start opening boxes after a move - you work for hours, & even though you feel the physical effects of your efforts, at the end of the day you really only "see" that a little bit of space has been cleared. So, for a couple of nights, even though I was able to get to the kitchen area to cook, we had no space to sit anywhere, so ate dinner standing against the counter. It usually takes a fair bit to get me to the point where I vocalize that I'm feeling overwhelmed by something, mostly because I tend to deal with stress by digging into the problem & trying to progress to reach some kind of resolution. By Friday evening, however, I was verbalizing my overwhelmed feeling. I felt like we were getting nowhere, & although I could see that boxes were being opened, I could also see that M was merely "relocating" their contents to different rooms! I did at least find some solace in our trash run though - we filled M's car with empty boxes & on our travels late Friday afternoon, we managed to find an empty dumpster to accept them! A small victory.
Oh & I was presented with some lovely flowers for my efforts too - what girl couldn't love a man who buys her flowers?
Bigger victories followed, however, and from day 2 onwards we managed to start making some serious headway. I don't know how it happened, but the purging began. Extra woks & other pans were allowed to be placed into a box for donation. Clothes were also allowed to be grouped into bags for donation too. I've seriously never known a man who owns so many clothes. I'd estimate that he owns about 10x the amount of clothes that I own, & I'm pretty sure that is an underestimation. And shoes. Jeezy peeps…..somehow I managed to get him to donate a box of old Army boots (about 12 pairs of them). And I lost count of the number of times I heard the phrase: "I've been looking for that!". Oh & let's not mention the 3 trash bags filled with (ancient) Army uniforms to donate. Many of which originated from his basic training days (M has been "Army" for 15 years).
Many of the boxes had actually never been opened in about 4 years - they'd been moved from IL to GA & never opened. Then they were placed in storage again while M was overseas last year, & there they remained until they were relocated up to NY last week.
Sorry - I'm rambling now…...I can summarize the whole experience by telling you I was a little "in shock"! But I can also say that I was really proud of M for all the purging he did though. I understand completely how difficult it is to part with belongings, especially when you've been through life experiences that triggered some kind of "nesting" or "collecting" activity. But I could also tell that he really enjoyed seeing the fruits of his labor once he did start purging, & this kind of inspired him to continue (this shocked me too, I must say! I didn't think we'd purge half as much as we succeeded in dealing with). Although some things were clearly harder than others to part with, & were just sequestered away - like his Boy Scout sleeping mat from a few decades ago. And what 35 year old man doesn't need a Chicago Bears lunchbag?
|I suggested that the saved lunchbag should hopefully curb the fast-food runs!|
Eventually we carved out enough space to be able to open up a table downstairs. It was wonderful being able to sit down to eat dinner. By this point, my catchphrase had become "Go Army.com" since I was sick & tired of opening bags & boxes of goodies with this phrase written on them. M was an Army recruiter in previous years, & still had a veritable collection of just about everything "Army" that you could wish for with that darn motto plastered on it. Pens, pencils, notepads, CDs, staplers, water bottles, T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, computer mousepads, breathalizer sticks……..oh my word, I'm hyperventilating again just thinking about it…..but at least by Day 3 there were even some "Go Army" lawn chairs for us to sit on at dinner time!
|Table For Two|
Anyway, by the time I left this afternoon, we had made a total of 10 dumpster runs, & additionally had filled the downstairs bathroom with trash bags of clothes & bedding to donate. There were many other boxes to donate too. As well as the 3 trash bags & one huge plastic tote box filled with shredded paper, courtesy of the gazillion bank documents etc, that had been kept from back in the days pre-abacus.
At least after 3 days of solid work we were both feeling pretty good with the results, especially as we'd managed to visit some furniture stores over the weekend too, & had chosen some things. So yesterday we did a trash run, purged a heap of boxes & trash, & then headed to the furniture store to order a sofa, some chairs & a split box-spring that will be able to make its way up the stairs. Then we warded off cabin fever by heading out for an afternoon drive. We headed out to Sackets Harbor & watched some loonies walking out on Lake Ontario to do some ice fishing!
|Walking on Lake Ontario|
Ah well, if you're still with me now, thanks! There may even be some community service hours in it for you…….it's been a stressful few days watching the boy purge & not-purge, but overall I'm really proud of him because I know how stressful it is allowing "things" to just disappear from your life.
I just spent 5 hours driving back to Massachusetts, & he's playing video games & has been very quiet. I think that sums up how he's feeling about it all!