I’ve been helping my mom clean out her attic. Technically it belongs to both of my parents, but the stuff that’s ended up there over the years seems to be mostly her purview. I’m being polite when I say stuff. George Carlin looked at it differently. It’s worth reading his routine on stuff; he nails it. I’ve offered to take on the garage and basement for my dad (for all that most of the stuff around the house seems to be hers, he’s quite the packrat) but so far he’s been quietly resistant.
Cleaning out the attic has been much less stressful than either my mom or I thought it would be. I think it has something to do with the shared nature of the project; we get to laugh, reminisce, maybe share a few tears. Regardless of the specific emotion, things get sorted quickly into the relevant piles; garbage, Goodwill, recycling, and my favorite, free to whoever wants it.
Did you know that Arlington has an email list where a group of people share thoughts about all sorts of things? Participants refer to it as the list. The list is purported to have over four thousand members: they’re mostly lurkers. The core, visible group is much, much smaller. (I’d put a number on it, but that’s the kind of thing that would then be debated ad nauseum on the list.) I contribute from time to time, when I think I can be helpful, but mostly I lurk and post when I have something I’m trying to give away. That didn’t work too well for my treadmill, but that was a rare failure. For the most part, I can find a new home for almost anything, if I tell the list.
Most of the things I give away can be left on the porch for the new owner to pick up at their convenience. I’ve only met a few of the recipients of mom’s down-sizing and my house cleaning. Once in a while, an item is too big for me to manage on my own, and I need to take the interested party down to my cellar. When that happens, I wonder briefly if I’ve just invited an axe murderer into my home. Sometimes I ask before I invite them in, “Are you an axe murderer?” So far the answer has been no, but if the answer was yes, would they tell me?
Assuming I continue to avoid becoming a news headline, I’ll keep giving things away. It feels good to know you’ve made someone else happy, or solved a problem for them. I know that Dad’s scraps of wood and old chicken wire are going to make someone very happy, as soon as I can convince him to part with them. When I do, you can read about it on the list.