5.20.2009

Simplicity...



In my dreams, my house looks an awful lot like Sweden’s Hotel Sigtuna (via remodelista)

You probably realize by now that I have a rather complex relationship with “stuff.”

As with most complex relationships, this one is pretty deep rooted in my childhood experiences... I’ve watched my parents literally lose entire housefuls of stuff (once when I was nine and our home burned to the ground the very night we moved and again during Katrina), so I know how in the entire scheme of things you can live with very little...how our possessions are not remotely as important as we think.

I also have this fixation on being able to "pack light" -- actually "light" probably isn’t a strong enough word, if you asked Bryan, he might say I’m obsessed (full-blown obsessed, not unlike the white situation.) This again (not surprisingly, hello therapy) comes from my childhood… My father is a musician so growing up we moved where the work was… 17 times before I graduated high school -- New Orleans, Austin, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe… As such, we became experts at packing and unpacking -- settling in immediately (my mother is a consummate nester), which is infinitely easier to do when you don’t have a lot of stuff. To keep things under control, my mother would walk through the house once a month with a big black garbage bag ruthlessly collecting stuff to toss or donate.

Bryan’s parents on the other hand still live in the same house they moved into when he was three. They have a lot of stuff. Needless to say, Bryan and I have much different relationships with our possessions. He’s a hoarder, I would throw away anything…I’m not sentimental at all. I know, weird.

At night when I can’t sleep, my favorite game is to play out my shelter fantasy where Bryan, the girlies and I move to a tiny house in the Pacific Northwest where it’s all loamy, green and misty (or Marfa, which doesn’t really fit with the misty green fantasy but is alluring nonetheless.) Since the house we move into is small, I can only bring the things I absolutely, unequivocally love, so I go through each room in my head picturing what would make the cut, chronicling all of my most special/meaningful/essential belongings into this little fictitious place.

That said, since having the girls, I’ve become a smidge more careful in my obsessive culling of our possessions. I now actually stop and think before selling every item of meaning on Craig’s List… I want the girls to have some mementos from their childhood when they start their own families. Just this morning, I was fantasizing about selling all of our baby gear in the next year or so, and while the crib and the Pottery Barn Dream Rocker is nothing special, I had all but sold the lovely Svan highchair that both girls used and would still be stunning in 25 years. So that stays in the attic.

Progress friends, progress…

21 comments:

Color Me Green said...

my mom gave away a lot of baby stuff to her friends, but i'm glad she kept some things, patiently waiting in the basement, so that I can have them when i start a family someday.

Kim said...

I do not think this is weird at all. We all have a complex relationship with stuff whether or not we think about it or acknowledge it. Thanks for driving this topic in your posts because I really think it prompts all of us to think about what we need and what we value and where we place our meaning, etc.

I love the photos you posted - reminds me of my friends' flats in Vienna with the wood floors, white walls and natural light. Lovely.

Eli Bird said...

i too battle with the clutter demon almost weekly. But the way i look at it, all this "stuff" we accumulate holds so many invaluable memories. my grandmother never threw away a thing and as we sort through her belongings, the smallest trinket will bring back the sweetest tiny memory. and we'll all fight over who gets to hold on to that little piece.

Joslyn said...

Eli Bird...what a great story about your grandmother's belongings, and you're right...we're ndsuch a disposable society right now -- it's nice to have some lasting/tangible evidence of your life once you're gone.

[J] said...

The dining room...perfection!

Sorry about being MIA about the blogger's faves, I haven't forgotten about you, I've had jury duty all week!

Joslyn said...

j -- no worries...would still love to run it!

Estelle said...

I love this post. The stuff relationship is sooo complex. I've been purging like crazy and just came across a box of three jewelry boxes from my great grandmother. Each one was a huge mess of jewelry, buttons, hat pits and thimbles. Tons of junk and a few gems that I had long forgotten about. But now that I have a few of the things she wore every day of her life I feel such a strong connection to her. For the first time in my life I'm thankful she was a pack rat.

Emily said...

I am the same way. chuck it all seems to be my motto. i love space, hate clutter.

those pictures were calling my name.

paula said...

I am one to sell it or give it all away. I have kept a few outfits of my childrens so one day they may use it for there's. I like to think if we lost it all then it wouldn't matter, hope I will never have that test though.

lassenbaby said...

I've used the bassinet from when I was a baby (I'm 41) for both of my kids. My mother used it for my brother and sister, and then they used it for their own kids. It's just now beginning to fall apart a bit. It's bent wood, a loose basket weave. I'm not sure it will last another 30 years but it's been nice having it.

But, I too am ready to sell baby gear and really great Gap Maternity jeans! Any advice on where to sell?

erinn said...

My grandmother has not a single sentimental bone in her body. My mother as a result has an attic full of stuff. I fall somewhere in between and am constantly trying to balance it. I would still like to have less stuff. My goal is to someday live in home with only things I love. That may be an impossible dream.

You make me chuckle. Thank you for that.

Kristin said...

I totally want to play your game! I'm mostly a "thrower" too... and most of the time that's for good, but every once in a while it bites me in the butt and I spent half a day searching the house for that thing I forgot I got rid of months ago. Better to live with less, though, I think.

Lily G. said...

Love how clean and simple the photos are!

liliesandgrapes.blogspot.com

mary said...

What a story about your parents' homes! Ack. I love that top photo!!

nichole said...

We must be sisters. Seriously.

I absolutely HATE stuff, and have a strict policy of only bringing things into the home that I love.

When we moved to Paris, I culled 70% of our possessions. A lot of useless things.

Our wardrobes are spare, I only buy art I adore, and I own LITERALLY four pieces of jewelry including my engagement and wedding ring.

I love being surrounded by only the things that are special, and it's nice not to have a lot of stuff to "manage."

My parents are hoarders, and it drives me absolutely batty. All they do is manage things.

I like the feeling of lightness that comes with minimal living.

;)

Joslyn said...

nichole...maybe we are sisters ;-)

Miss Lady Finger said...

I think I've just found a duplicate of myself! I was told off by a friend recently for selling everything I own all the time.....ha! Love your blog, so glad I found it xxx

Stephanie said...

Amen! I agree with you on just about every point you make in this post. My life experiences lead me to have the same attitude towards "stuff" as you. This was fun to read...not coming from my mouth this time :)

Amanda said...

I love this post. I am a bit more like your husband- I am a hoarder, a memory keeper, probably from having a relatively volatile childhood. But after the spending hiatus (remember that everyone) I learned that stuff is just that- stuff. I do live in a very, very small apartment and I constantly feel like I need to go through and get rid of some more stuff. But I have a feeling that's more a result of living in a small space, as unless I start throwing away books and pens there isn't much left to get rid of.

Stuff is a very complicated topic. Now I feel like I should be cleaning out my closets, hah.

~Amanda

the haystack needle said...

I'm a total squirrel with stuff, and totally sentimental about holding onto things of meaning. I'm trying to be more like you. but I will say I wish my mom had held onto my children's books. They were the best. I had all the Dr. Seuss, Berenstein Bears, and all the classics. I wish I had those to pass on when we start a family.

Kristina Guilbeau said...

i just love this post. i love it, i love, i love it. i feel the same way and you hit the nail RIGHT on the head.