The Trials (and Joys) of Downsizing

And the journey through the forest, the underworld, continues. After Former Boyfriend left, last autumn, I had the luxury of six months of solitary living, enjoying this 3-bedroom house all by myself before the end of the lease and the time to consider what I was going to do with myself. I knew that six months would fly by…and it did.

At the time, I moved my furniture around several times, trying to fill up every room and make things beautiful and comfortable for myself. I knew it wouldn’t be long before I would be facing some of my worst financial and domestic fears, so I wanted to allow myself to enjoy the grace period I had, however short it was. I moved my bed from one room to another. Then my office from one room to another.

Oddly, there was a lot of discomfort in the process. I came to love my bedroom and the living room area, but my once beloved office space was no longer inviting to me, no matter how many times I moved things around. And the third bedroom became an uncomfortable catch-all for the piles of junk I’ve accumulated over the years.

Six months later, and I have spent maybe one day in that office space. The rest of the time, I’m in the living room, kitchen or bedroom. And now the time has come to seriously –very seriously – downsize. Sure, it would be nice to keep this place to myself, if I had the money. I love having a sparsely furnished bedroom (that’s probably the reason I enjoy being in there – there aren’t many possessions in there, which means it’s always clean and tidy) and I love having my work stuff separate from my bedroom stuff. If I could afford it, I’d keep everything as is, except for the catch-all room, which would make a great bedroom area for guests and my nephews.

What the house used to look like - just two pieces of furniture in every room.

What the house used to look like - just two pieces of furniture in every room.

But that is not to be. What is to be – I have no clue. A roommate coming here? Me leaving, altogether and finding a smaller place, or becoming someone else’s roommate? It’s still too early to tell.

Limbo like this is always hard to endure. Though, in a way, it feels better than the limbo I was in for the last five years, living here with someone who didn’t want to commit himself to the relationship. Now the picture is becoming clearer without the daily despair of dealing with that. But now I have six weeks to figure out what to do with my furniture, whether or not to buy a washer and dryer and so many other tiny, but important details.

Going through my office supplies and furniture is always strangely painful. There was something about the process of making my business (Five Seed) and building a beautiful office space that was so intimately tied to my hopes and dreams for my relationship. And add to that the constant struggle I’ve had with the business(es), struggling to keep things afloat, to make a go of things. It’s rather a minefield of disappointments. And just looking at the shelf full of books by entrepreneurs who “made it” gives me stomachaches.

Yet, at the same time, I’m excited for the opportunities to let go of this emotional flotsam. I moved one of my black office bookshelves into my bedroom and it was like a giant shadow standing over my bed. Ick! I have loved black furniture for ten years now, but suddenly…I’m not so sure I want it in my house anymore. I still love the look of it, but I want lightness and brightness and softness. Maybe it’s time to let go of those shelves.

I’ve finally decided to try to sell the expensive canopy tent I bought for Five Seed – the one I used only three times before packing the business away. I don’t need $300 worth of regret sitting in my garage any longer. I’m ready to let it go. I had a good run and it’s time to move on.

Suddenly, everything is on the negotiating table. What can I let go of? What have I kept for years, but never used just because I thought it was pretty or might be useful someday? Have these items earned a place in my home?

The whole process is terrifying and exhilarating. Ninety-five percent of the stuff in this house was bought or acquired after we moved in. Between the two of us, we had almost nothing and lived in empty rooms for months. So each item now has a special meaning, a special memory of buying it for our married life – a life that was never to come. Letting go of that hurts like hell, but it also feels like 10,000 pounds lifted off my back.

It’s time to make some pretty big changes…