The Warehouse Of My Life

August 16, 2016

_MG_0429  Lately I have been really struggling with the amount of stuff I own. It is overwhelming. I have heaps, and heaps, and heaps of possessions. Is it time for a declutter? I think probably, yes. I have enough clothes to fill at least 5 standard wardrobes. I have three bookcases full of books. I have 4 full size accordions, a piano and a full size keyboard and a stage keyboard, at least 6 guitars, at least 8 ukuleles, 2 violins, 3 clarinets, a box of recorders, piles of strings and tuners and a crate full of cables. I have a full shelf of mugs, plus my grandparents wedding crockery, two full victorian tea sets from my great-grandmother, a dressing table from my Auntie and a 1950s art deco chair rescued from my grandparents home when they moved.

The overflow of stuff I own reaches my parents house, where I have an entire bedroom crammed with stuff dating back to childhood. Photographs, toys, shoes, bolts of fabric, spare kitchenalia. Books I will probably never read again that haven’t quite found their way out of the house. Boxes from houses I hastily packed up and left at the end of each year of uni and never fully unpacked. Items from one bedroom that didn’t quite make it to the next.

I have notebooks and sketchbooks and exercise books filled with lyrics and poems. I have diaries chronicling every year of my life since 1997. I have years of ticket stubs and receipts and postcards and notes from friends, waiting to be archived in an orderly fashion into a scrapbook or memory box or some other distant project I will never have time for. Each hastily packed and deposited bag is like a mini time capsule: the poster I had on my wall during second year, the diary I kept the year I was 18, a now redundant necklace with the number 21 hanging off of it.

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In an ideal world my bedroom would display these little souvenirs and trinkets from my life alongside the things I use every day for work. I can picture it now; framed postcards next to my music stand, the glass bowl from my great-grandmother sat delicately next to my beloved books. My room would be curated, a museum of my life and an exhibition of my experiences. As it is, I feel like I live in a warehouse. The postcards are under some sheet music from the last Quizcats show, yet to be filed properly, the glass bowl filled with odd socks and stashed on top of a birthday present.

At times I feel held back by my stuff. I daydream about the flat I’d one day like to own, but how can I think about saving up to buy a house and move onwards in my life when I have so much literal, physical baggage to wade through first? This will be the summer I downsize and clear out my life. I have already started sifting through the bags, filling the recycling bins with old exercise books and terrible song lyric ideas and refreshing my eBay account daily with clothes I no longer wear. I am eager to clear out my life here, pack it away into a neat cardboard box and then set sail for the rest of the world without a house full of memories to return to. To have nothing to return to would be so glorious: a clean slate, a blank wall.

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I have always tried to live minimally, but I have also been terrified to discard things I may one day need, or which hold some sentimental value. I’m good at getting rid of clothes and shoes and jewellery, but books and cards and photos are harder to let go of. It gets easier. There’s more to take into account now: adulthood is no longer some far off destination I can’t reach, and I know now for sure that though I may like to keep hold of my first pair of glasses for sentimental reasons, there’s no way I need the 14 pairs that came after that. I will not need my university essays from this point on; just yesterday I shredded my A-Level certificates, because who has ever asked to see them and how often do I even need to recall the grades? After the sentimental stuff, there is the problem of being an artist: I need my instruments, and my books, and my paints, but these tools take up a lot of space. How many accordion gigs do I get each year?

I have no conclusion to this post – these are just my aired thoughts as I begin what feels like an exhausting, marathon process of delving back into the shipwreck of my life, retrieving the treasure before my house gets flooded in debris. I suppose even the treasure will change as we drift on; right now I hang on to the anniversary cards from CB in the same way I held onto letters from my American cousins in my childhood. I suppose the best way to de-clutter is to be constantly assessing your belongings. Being able to pinpoint the exact moment when your feelings towards something change and you can toss it gleefully into the recycling on your way to work. Until I reach that Sensei level, I’ll sit here on the floor surrounded by paper, bin bags and a post-it note labelling system, awakening the dust bunnies and delighting the volunteers in my local charity shop.

15 comments so far.

15 responses to “The Warehouse Of My Life”

  1. Natasha says:

    Great post Laila and one that rings true for me at the moment. I have 3 big boxes filled with what I call memories in my cupboard, and for months now they’ve been sitting there while I avoid the inevitable recycling marathon ahead. It’s strange because after university finished I moved with my Mum and brother to the Lake District and so I had to scale back my belongings massively and it was so cathartic. Now I’m slowly slipping back into old ways, and when it comes to some of the more sentimental pieces in my life, I have to remind myself that the memory is still there, whether I get rid of the pile of notes in my little box or not, and I’ve been watching a lot of zen and minimalism videos on YouTube recently and am slowly warming to the idea of scaling it back again, to help with anxiety, de-clutter and like you, look towards eventually one day moving out too. – Tasha

  2. I feel your pain. I have a lot of stuff too that I don’t want to get rid of.

  3. Denise says:

    I am not good on an advice now, because I am the same 🙂 And I think that, although it doesn'[t make life practical, we have these things for a certain reasons – sentimental ones. Like you said, getting rid of the clothes are fine, but postcards… no. Each box being a time capsule sounds great to me! I wish you find a way to get rid of some things, but not all!
    DenisesPlanet.com

  4. Mel says:

    I was like this a good few years ago and uni is a real pain in the backside for leaving you with half a house full of stuff and then the things you actually own and use daily. It’s taken me years and moving houses to finally whittle everything down to stuff I actually want and taking the chance every time to throw or give stuff away.

    Mel ★ http://www.meleaglestone.co.uk

  5. I did a big clear out last year when my parents moved out of my childhood home. I don’t regret throwing ANYTHING out except my diaries. I had every diary from the age of 12 – to the age of 20 in a big cardboard box and had nowhere to put them. I was terrified someone would read them so I got rid of them. I think about it all the time and can’t believe I threw them away. So my tip to you, would be = get rid of anything except your diaries!

  6. Cleaning/clearing your living space is like cleaning/clearing your own mind. You’ll do great and find other meanings in having less: living more, enjoying experiences and people on the spot, remembering them through a photograph you’ll be happy to frame or have time to add to a collection in an album.
    It is actually very satisfactory to be able to clean/declutter one’s bedroom (been doing it myself at my parents’ house in southern France this summer) and it allows for more space to breathe.

    Have fun! You’ll feel much better afterwards! 😉

    Happy decluttering!
    Jul’

  7. Just this year, i decided to declutter my room.. And trust me i was in the same situation as you. I owned 3 violins, a million books and worst of all, all the stationaries that had accumulated since grade 3, I’m still stuck on the books, lol.
    Happy decluttering! 🙂

  8. I feel your pain. Unlike you I struggle to part with clothes and shoes. I have an overwhelming amount of stuff that spills out onto my “floor”drobe. My untidiness is a constant source of angst between my husband and I, but I find it impossible to find homes for everything I own!

    The struggle is real…

  9. I don’t know if this can help, but what do you think about hanging yous instruments on the walls? I feel they must take a very big part of your space, and maybe if you could resize your space you could keep the memories.. I think it’s awesome to have all the cards and diaries.. I had mine thrown away when we had an accident in my parents house, it wasn’t much, but I miss them until today.. The situation didn’t allow any goodbyes, so maybe if you can, maybe with the right closure that can be done… Waiting for the next chapter of the warehouse! Bybye!

  10. Laura says:

    this is me. and i really struggle with wanting to keep everything and wanting to downsize everything. i had to throw out and sell a lot of my things when we sold my childhood home, but i still own SO much. i have furniture i’ve lent to family and family friends, most of the things in my mum’s current house are actually mine, i’ve boxes full of letters and cards and diaries and baby clothes that i’m “saving for my future children”. it’s actually ridiculous, haha! i’m such a hemulen but i’m trying to become a snufkin, haha (most people i try to say that to don’t understand me, but i feel like you will)! xx

  11. Kerry says:

    Hi! I’ve just discovered your blog as it was linked from someone else’s (can’t remember who’s oops!) and as you can see I’m whiling away the quiet hours at work by read through older posts! Loved this post and I think it’s something most people in their 20s can relate to! I live in France for half the year and every time I come home I have a clear out as I think if I’ve not needed it for 6 months I can probably do without it and the belongings just get smaller! I agree that it’s quite liberating 😀 anyway, love the blog! x

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