When I left Canada back in 2006, I wasn’t sure if I was leaving permanently, so I stored a bunch of things at my parents. In 2007, when I was back, I knew that my heart was in Spain and not Canada, so I gave away the rest of my stuff.
The things I kept, however, surprised me a little. The paintings by my father and the quilt made for me by my mother—those were givens, as were certain books. It was the kitchen knife that I didn’t want to leave behind or the slightly chipped cake plate—those things surprised me.
But when I thought about it, they made sense. The knife had hung on the metallic knife-bar my entire life growing up. Looking at the knife reminds me of talking to my mother while she prepared dinner and the theme song for CBC’s As It Happens played in the background.
The cake plate is painted with stylized flowers and reminds me of birthdays and other special events—covered with things cake with an orange-flavoured butter icing, or (at Christmas-time) hazelnut torte.
I still have a couple of pieces of furniture like my great-grandmothers sideboard that’s followed me around since university and was the first piece of furniture I refinished. At some point (when we have a larger apartment) I’ll have shipped them here. As for all my other stuff, the things I cherished in my house in Toronto? All gone, without a twinge of regret.
Carrie leaves her apartment this weekend, so I asked her to look at what she’s giving away and what she’s keeping. I also asked her why. Here’s what she said:
What I am keeping:
Clothes, 6 pairs of shoes, two pairs of sheets and 40 pounds of books. I am keeping three pieces of art. Two pieces given to me by dear friends that acquired the pieces while traveling, one piece I acquired in the same manner. Why? Because I love the friends and love the piece that I am taking with me.
What I got rid of:
My cheese plate. That was probably my most prized possession. I had to let it go as I could not justify carrying apiece of slate with me across the ocean. I have also gotten rid of my champagne glasses because I wanted the friend who got them to have it more than I wanted keep them. For the same reason I got rid of an Aztec calendar cast in stone that I brought back from Mexico City.
In short, I have gotten rid of almost everything. The 40 pounds of books includes my favorite cookbooks and some other books that were gifted to me.
The biggest surprise move has been the decision to keep my sheets. I think they represent my ability to purchase myself finer things in life like high thread count sheets. I also feel that they can still serve their purpose in my new home.
It is absolutely exhilarating to reduce my entire inventory of beloved objects to a suitcase full of clothes. I feel liberated from my life. I still have very very much to rid from my apartment, but I am really thrilled at the progress thus far. I am emboldened by the letting go.
How about you? Have you ever done a major purge and been surprised by what you kept?