Monday, March 30, 2015

Getting Rid of Stuff

Yesterday Sally and I started going through a bunch of stuff at the apartment.  Our goal is to greatly reduce the amount of stuff we have so it is easier to store.

It is amazing how nice it feels to get rid of stuff. I don’t know if it is because of the psychological drive of simplicity that has assisted in our decision in Peace Corps, or if it is merely one less item that we have to worry about or deal with.  Whatever the reason, it is very satisfying to fill up a contracting bag for Salvation Army, or pass on furniture to someone who needs it. I hesitate to mistake this feeling for charity, because that is not what I am feeling.  

The reality is that there is a lot involved in setting aside your stateside life for a two-year excursion.  It seems like an image that comes to mind when one imagines a Peace Corps worker is a hippy volunteer that is going to “see the world,” but that hippy volunteer must also be incredibly organized and have the ability to jump through any hurtle that is thrown at them before they even depart for their country of service.  Every item we give away, every item we buy for our packing list feels like one more step toward a mutual goal that Sally and I have valued since our freshmen year of college.

We applied for Peace Corps in May of last year (2014) and interviewed in June. We received countries to choose from in mid-summer and after making Mongolia our number one choice we waited until October to receive an invitation to serve there. We were given medical tasks in December and completed those by February of 2015. Our departure day is May 28th. All that is left is to close down our stateside life, get rid of our stuff, and embark on this epic journey.

The journey to get rid of stuff started in February with the departure of Alberta our adopted rock dove (pigeon) from the Alabama Wildlife Center. Alberta made a name for herself in her youth from the AWC so it was relatively easy to find someone who would care for her. We are excited about her new home because she is with other birds and in an aviary. This is a huge step up in life for Alberta how had been the most vocal occupant of our small guest room with a large dog carrier as her home.
From there we have moved to taking boxes of stuff to Salvation Army, and returning borrowed stuff to proper homes.  Yesterday we gave Ben most of our E-waste, because he may be able to use it. This weekend we may be able to get rid of some furniture.  However, there are still some big ticket items in the future.  I need to sell/scrape my car in a few weeks. I also have to find a home for two of my snakes: George (Corn snake) and Scott (Grey/Yellow Rat snake).  I have had both of these snakes for almost 10 years, so I am looking for a home that will allow them to continue living their long, peaceful lives.

Then…there is the blue denim couch in the guest room: that hugely comfortable, enormously heavy, pain in the backside, blue denim couch.  I slept on its fold-out bed during college and have done a number of cheap fixes to keep it semi-workable. For reasons that seemed to make sense at the time and because we were emotionally attached to the sofa, Sally and I spent a miserable half day moving the couch into our apartment and guest room. At the end of it all, we vowed that when the couch was moved again it would be in small manageable pieces that were light enough to carry to the dumpster. I am looking forward to the demise of this poor denim sofa, because it seems like an obstacle between us and departure.  Fortunately it is nothing a carpenter’s saw, hammer, ax, blow torch, dynamite, or sheer back-breaking labor cannot solve…

Destroying the couch is all part of getting rid of the stuff; a process that when complete, will open up a horizon of opportunity.


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