Moving is Messy
Change is hard. Moving is messy. New beginnings are scary.
We’ve moved out of our house and into my in-laws’ basement, a process that was anything but smooth.
It started with garage sales every weekend for the past month, and that took care of maybe half of our possessions. People fought over the power tools. I had to put “not for sale” signs on everything of ours that came outside, including this laptop. We filled the large 2-car garage and emptied it, filled it and emptied it. Our house slowly disintegrated into piles of what was left as the furniture found new homes. For the last week the girls slept on the floor on blow up pool mattresses after we sold their bunk bed (it sounds mean, but for kids that’s a camping adventure, really.)
Have you ever wondered what all your possessions might be worth? Not what you bought them for, or what it would cost to buy replacements, but what you would walk away with if you sold the entire content of your house. It’s a lot less than you would think.
Our house was about 1400 square feet plus a basement; 4 bedrooms, 2 bath, large garage, all full of stuff. After weeks of selling online and sitting through garage sales we made about $3,500, and we worked and haggled for every penny. From what I’ve read about other travelers who have done the same this doesn’t seem unusual, but It’s still surprising to me how little our accumulated possessions are really worth, a wake-up call in a society that places so much value on material things.
After the garage sales we started filling the garage one more time and arranged for the Salvation Army to bring a truck and pick up everything. It would be the same day as the final paperwork that officially sold our house, so it was crucial that it get gone. The day came, and we called to check what time they were coming…oops, we weren’t on their list. They wouldn’t be back in the area for a week.
So the house was ready but the garage was full, and we had to bite the bullet and tell the buyer. I was embarrassed at this last minute problem, even though we had done everything we could.
The buyers were not happy, of course. They had toured the house while we were moving things and been freaked out about the mess (hello, moving is messy!) and they didn’t believe we got it done and got the house clean. They offered to close on the house anyway if we’d pay them $1000 for clean up and disposal. If we didn’t they said they wouldn’t close until it was all gone.
So my options are to pay $1000 to someone who’s being rather insulting today, or wait a week and have it all done for free? Yeah, we said we’d wait.
I guess they were bluffing because they came and toured the house again and saw that oh, it was clean and empty just like it should be, and they really wanted to move in. The realtors talked again and we came to an agreement that got them into the house that day without requiring any more money from us. They would take care of everything in the garage for us in exchange for us throwing in some valuable items for free: done.
So after this slight bit of drama we walked away from it all, just like we planned.
That night even though I was exhausted I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking about all the things we left in that garage; most of the girls’ Barbies, my nice winter coat, the shelf that I’d had since I was a little girl, all our Correll dishes…I didn’t mind giving these things away to someone who would use them, but I hated the thought of them being thrown away. Worse, my mother tells stories about a house they sold when the buyer showed up early and started taking out things she didn’t have room to pack and burning them in a pile in the back yard. While she was still there. I really couldn’t stand the thought of all those things that had been part of our lives being destroyed like that.
It felt silly to be upset about it-after all, I’m the one telling the girls to “let it go, it’s just stuff, we can always get more.” I’m the one who has been telling everyone how liberating it is to get rid of things. I know we don’t need those things anymore, but I couldn’t help wishing we had made sure they were donated ourselves instead of trusting it to the buyers.
Too late now. Nothing I can do; moving on.
So our purge is almost over. We have some boxes that we need to re-sort and then we’ll get it all stored away. We kept a few things like our bed that we’ll use up until we leave Iowa for good (yes, we kept our bed and not the kids’, big meanies or whatever but we slept on the floor one night and knew it was not for us.)
After that initial twinge of regret and worry, I realized that even though it hasn’t been smooth I still believe in what we’re doing. I still don’t have any doubts that taking our family to Mexico will be great, and I wouldn’t change a thing we’ve done.
It’s too late to turn back at this point even if we wanted to. Once you’ve seen all the possibilities, the families that travel successfully, the places to see, the cultures and ancient ruins and reefs and jungles, all the wide world that is out there-once we realized how much more life can be, how could we ever go back to normal? We can’t, and if you keep reading there’s a chance you may come to the same point and someday find yourself throwing all your formerly precious things into boxes for strangers to take away.
Beware, dear reader, because part of sharing my journey with you is to show you it’s possible, but what I really hope is to inspire you to take the leaps you’ve been considering for yourself.