you can’t take it with you

It started last night, while watching Graham Hill’s TED Talk (Less stuff, more happiness – http://t.co/RrHq1do0). Is life really lived better with less stuff? Does a smaller amount of possessions make us freer? I believe that the increase in quantity of certain possessions, like underwear, is definitely positively correlated with happiness (because come on, who wouldn’t prefer to do less laundry?!) But the truth is, with increasing options and increasing space available to us, we are becoming comfortable with owning in excess (case in point, A&E’s Hoarders, a terrifying show that makes me cringe).

So my problem? The incessant, harassing nagging of a storage unit, the current resting place of nearly all of my belongings since birth. In college, I lived in no fewer than eight different places, including my study abroad residence, and since then, tack on another 9 more if you count the various apartments and friends’ houses that I inhabited while in Madrid over three years. (This isn’t counting my mom’s three residences since we left our house in 2003 or the one apartment my dad had). Grand total? A whopping 23 places that I have inhabited for a month or longer, including my house in East Lake and my current residence with family in NY. So one may say that I have too much stuff or am disorganized… but consider the circumstances.

That being said, it’s now me vs. the storage unit. Pictures, notes, sheets, clothes, appliances, clocks, shoes, notebooks, college swag, funny gifts, yearbooks, empty CD cases, shot glasses, sheet music, books, cookbooks, stuffed animals – you name it, it’s probably there. I don’t want all of these things. After living abroad for three years, starting with two suitcases (okay, ending with a bit more) – I never once sat down and nostalgically yearned for the bean bag Oscar Mayer Winiermobile or my notes from my Marketing Strategy class in college. What I did yearn for, however, were my friends, family, and usually peanut butter.

What do I keep? What do I give away? What do I donate? What do I throw away?

The good advice that I’ve been given is that if I haven’t used it or thought about it in a year, to just chuck it. But what if my future children will want to play with my stuffed animals or 90’s outfitted Barbie dolls? What if they’ll think seeing a tape collection that belonged to their grandpa is so cool? What if I get my own apartment and realize that the only thing missing to create perfect feng shui in my new habitat is that electric wok?

I can’t answer these questions. All I can do is make three bins: Save, Toss and Bring to New York, the latter limited by space in my car and my extended family’s sanity.

I”m going to do all that I can to maintain Graham Hill’s ideas, though I kind of refuse to have a bed that folds up into the wall since I will feel rather astronaut-like. Hopefully by tomorrow I can kick this nostalgia and get to the gritty part…. relentlessness filling up all of Goodwill’s donation containers.

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