Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Time To Lighten Up: Step 1

"It's opener there, in the wide open air." --Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go.

My nest is soon to be empty. Thing One left this past summer, got married, had baby, LEFT. Thing Two is moving out of state in a few months, having just turned 18. I get the feeling she isn't coming back for more than a visit. She's the independent sort, kinda like me.

I loved motherhood, really, really loved it. I dug in deep, committed, put many dreams on hold and never regretted it. I realize that I will always be a mother--but I am feeling the end of the need to "parent."

The Nest is very big. 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, 2 dens. In scientific terms, it is GINORMOUS. It isn't horribly full of stuff, thank goodness. Still, downsizing is going to require some black-belt minimizing.

This probably ought to scare me, but I can't wait to be free of THINGS. I decided to start at the front door and work my way clockwise.

Step 1: the Nest's coat closet--a cavernous space that not only holds coats and winter gear from the last 5 years of growth and fashion mistakes, plus all the luggage, but also holds all the lovely camping equipment that I bought with the best of intentions and have yet to use. I do camp, but oddly not in the past two years that I have owned the stuff.

The call went out--take it or lose it. A few coats were claimed by Thing One and Thing Two. The rest abandoned, like the Nest. The coats were easy. If I didn't love it and use it, it went into the donation bag. The luggage, which I bought with the Wasband more than ten years ago, is now outdated due to new airline baggage restrictions. It all goes.

I have 3 sleeping bags. Doubt creeps in...what if someone needs to borrow one? What if I have a visitor and we want to go camping? What if I get really cold one night? (which, since my own bag is rated for -20, is a little silly). What if the Zombie Apocalypse comes and I'm not prepared??

It's a raging wave of the "just in cases."

I take a deep breath. I shove Worst-Case-Scenario-Mom back into her cage and lock her in. I remind myself that REI rents everything. (And also, since I can't do parkour or even run a mile, I won't make it past the first week of the Zombie Apocalypse anyway.) Then I think...if REI rents everything, then do I need to keep ANY of the brand-spanking new camping gear that I purchased? I could waltz into REI and rent the whole pile of stuff anytime I like, then give it back and never have to store it! Why store anything? Why own anything? Why not sleep on a mat and eat rice?

Reason intrudes, thankfully. I think the minimalist urge can be a compulsion, and I make it a practice never to give in to compulsions if I can help it. So, I'm keeping one of everything I need to go camping, including my smallish family tent. I'm not a backpacker, so the weight of the tent doesn't matter, and it'll be nice if I go camping with a friend. I promise myself that if I do not camp in the next 12 months, I will relinquish it all and denounce the "I am a camper" self-delusion.

Now the camping gear-for-one is put neatly away in 2 smallish easily-lifted bins that can be loaded into my car for spontaneous escapes. The coats are down to 3: fall, winter & rain. (I rethink "rain" because I live in the desert, toss it, then retrieve it because it packs well for travel.) 1 good pair of gloves. 2 warm scarves (1 colorful, 1 neutral). Snow boots. 1 (formerly 2) telescoping fishing pole. My bike helmet (the bike is also on 12 month probation) and my picnic basket for concerts in the park. The cavern is nearly empty.

I could camp in the coat closet now...