A Year Without My Stuff

A lot of overwhelming things have been going on in my life, and one of them was moving out of an apartment I love in November, into one I kind of hate. It was a decision that Matt and I had thought about for over six months, and we decided the most responsible, grown up thing to do would be to let go of some of our creature comforts for a year (or more perhaps) in order to save a ton of money and have a house of our own sooner than planned. If you live in Toronto, you know that housing is expensive. When I say expensive, I mean exorbitant, outrageous and often impossible for a lot of people. We knew that paying crazy high rent in our ultra comfortable, two floor apartment with a lovely garden, en suite washer and dryer, dishwasher, and beautiful details also meant waiting years to be able to save up enough money for a decent down payment on a house of our own, so we chose to take the long-view and traded in our great apartment for a teeny tiny, older one bedroom about three blocks from our old place. I felt super spoiled when I had a mini panic attack at the idea of moving into a much less comfortable place. I worried endlessly about storage, the cold cement square that the landlords call a yard, how Princie would adjust to a move, the old appliances, and the prospect of house centipedes!!!! (That one was the worst).

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Beautiful view of the garden from our nicer apartment

The hardest part however, was downsizing our stuff.  I really love the stuff I have been able to collect over the years. My old apartment had what seemed like endless storage options. Four large closets and a large utility shelf in our private laundry room offered tons of space for my vintage knickknacks and garage sale finds. I was also able to store a lot of the furniture I was collecting for refinishing. It was basically a hoarder’s dream come true! However, this new apartment has one, (yes only one!!) large closet. Preparing to move, we went through each and every closet and  donated multiple large garbage bags and boxes to Goodwill/Value Village and used our storage space to store the things we still wanted to keep, but just couldn’t fit into the apartment. Seven large boxes of books, antique furniture for EYDIAB, my desk and crafting table, Matt’s boxes of computer stuff, and tons of other things. We moved into our place with our couch, bed, computers and not much else. Although I do still have access to my stuff,  (my storage space is literally 5 minutes away from home) I have been thinking a lot about minimalist living and reading a lot about giving things up.  I recently had a really good conversation with a friend about consumerism and the need to acquire lots of things. She mentioned that as a rule, she purges her apartment of excess stuff every three months. She also talked about the fact that people often have emotional attachments to their stuff but often can’t even articulate what it is about any one item that they feel so attached to! This move gave me an opportunity to really think about why it was hard for me to give away many of my treasured possessions and to examine my attitude towards the things I own.

A year of living a lot more simply will probably be good for me and I can say that as frustrating as one closet can be it is also, in some strange way a little refreshing! Here’s to more simple living in 2014!


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