Yesterday we got word that a realtor is preparing an offer to purchase our Florida house, which has been on the market for a year. With that news I sprang into action, formulating a plan for organizing the stuff we would have to deal with. The problem is complicated by the fact that we would be selling our Florida home to move full time to our Michigan home, on the market for three years and already full of stuff.
Think of it as a test.
I decided that it would make sense to define specific categories. At some point in the process, these categories would materialize as distinct piles of boxes in the living room or garage.
___ A. Stuff we hope the buyers will want to buy from us
___ B. Stuff to throw out
___ C. Stuff we will hide before we leave, hoping the new residents won’t find it until it’s too late
___ D. Stuff to donate to Goodwill, the library, etc.
___ E. Stuff to give to family members
___ F. Stuff to sell to family members
___ G. Stuff to sell on Craig’s List
___ H. Stuff we can use in our Michigan home
___ I. Stuff we will move to Michigan and place into storage in case we need it in the future
___ J. Stuff we will move to Michigan and then throw out
___ K. Stuff we hope gets lost or broken on the way to Michigan
___ L. Stuff we will find and say, “What the hell is that?”
___ M. Stuff we put away while our house was showing that we will accidentally leave behind. This stuff will not make it into the piles in the living room
Remember that I said this was a test? Let’s move to the “matching” part of the test. Match the stuff listed below with the categories above.
1. David’s old t-shirts and underwear
2. The mattress we have had for 30 years
3. David’s college textbooks
4. The bike carrier that hooks onto our car, sitting unused in the garage for two years.
5. Kim’s collections of bird nests, cocoons, feathers, shells, snakeskins, pods, shark teeth, dried flowers, pine cones, etc.
6. The printer, a little better than the one in Michigan except for the “expired” ink.
8. Pillows – we have 6 for our bed in Florida and 7 more in Michigan
9. Porch furniture
10. Vintage drinking glasses that don’t match the vintage glasses we have in Michigan
11. Various elastic straps we keep in a bedside drawer for morning stretching, (really!) though they may resemble sex toys
12. Two vacuum cleaners (we have three in Michigan)
13. Thirty travel-sized boxes of Kleenex (we have another 30 in Michigan)
14. End table made of petrified wood (weighs over 200 pounds)
15. The best television that I or anyone else ever owned
16. Collection of random screws, washers, oddly shaped and vaguely electronic pieces of metal, stuff that might have fallen off a computer or vacuum cleaner, hooks for hanging pictures, pads that glue or nail onto the bottom of chair legs, etc., etc., stuffed into eight shelves of a metal cabinet designed for an organized person who did not major in English.
17. New red toolbox, a gift from Kim, mainly filled with screwdrivers.
18. Migun Bed, an expensive robotic massage table, purchased to help Kim’s fibromyalgia. She is too sore to use it; David uses it for “meditation” and afternoon naps.
19. Inflatable mattress, once used by grandkids who once used to visit.
20. A set of antique window shutters in faded green paint
21. Rugs once used in the Middle East for people from different tribes to kneel and pray together. This is before they blew each other up.
22. VHS collection, including “The Wellness Workout” with Denise Austin, and an Instructional Video for a Starbucks Home Espresso Machine. (The latter includes a note: “Remove Instructional Video from water tank before filling with water.”)
Of course, you don’t have to take this test. We do. And we realize this process is a prelude to an imagined scene shortly after our inevitable (alas) deaths: our kids going through our stuff and deciding what to do with it all. We are afraid that everything will end up in category B, hopefully to the accompaniment of laughter. But for us, now, it’s more like work.
UPDATE: The deal fell through. The “buyer” never made an offer. Nevertheless, the process is underway.