It’s fair to say that, as a married woman looking to move, that my life has now become a battle against crap. Although the veteran of at least two dozen moves, this happened to me once before, when I was a bachelorette resident of Daytona Beach, Home of the Shell Yeah Angry Minor League Turtles, a used beer koozy of a town that I miss from time to time, as its salt water taffy is excellent even if its charter ballet isn’t.
The neighborhood I lived in was, to use a precise real estate term, iffy. Outside of the fact that I need a military escort to get the mail, I was frustrated with a parting gift the former tenant left me in the form of a permanent cloud of Marlboro Stank. S/he had a habit, judging from the tenacity and intensity of the smell, of perhaps ninety thousand packs a day.
“You can tell there’s a war going on,” Josh The Pilot offered hopefully in the early days when I draped sheets of Bounce on the ceiling fan and emptied entire cans of Renuzit into the hall closet. I had three ozone treatments for the carpet and employed the Order of the Glade and thought I had it beat until I went home for Thanksgiving, and I opened my suitcase in my sister’s thirdhand smoke-free home, aaaaaaaaaand…. I hadn’t come very far, baby.
But moving cost money, a lot of it, and when the urge to move arose, I looked with exhaustion at all of the things in my apartment , and though each individual thing was at that very moment soaking up the wavy little smell rays, it would also have to be balled up in tissue paper and hurled in the back of a van, and then removed from the van and then unpacked, and my well-reasoned adult decision on the matter was: “Just…no.” My entire esophageal system was disintegrating with every inhale, but at least I won’t have to order new address labels. And that day it became official: I would not take on excess manual labor to save my life.
Now, however, I have another vote in the household, and that is the deciding vote which pushes the lawnmower. We’re going. That means all the things have to go too. And the less I have to pack to begin with, the better.
I began by questioning every single thing I own:
- Does this item make me happy, or am I keeping it out of a sense of obligation?
- Do I actually use this item, or am I just being German and I’m afraid to part with it because I think I will in some future White House administration run by a President not yet born?
- Will this item act as a valuable artifact in the future Mary Beth Ellis Author House Museum and Liquor Store, or will it just annoy my next of kin as they hurl it into a giant Rumpke dumpster should I fall into an I-75 pothole and am never heard from again?
You would be amazed by how much I was happy to make the Salvation Army’s problem with this system. Out went the third-extra Pyrex dish, the cheese board, the piece of paper from fifth grade certifying me as having completed a satisfactory number of federally mandated sit-ups. Often these items consisted of things I assumed were required to enter into married life, such as a punch bowl with tiny cups that hang off the side, but after ten years of wifedom I have come to terms with the fact that I hate people and don’t want any of them in my house anyway.
Sentimental items are the hardest. On several purging passes I resisted sweeping away a Reds Hall of Fame statue of Joe Nuxhall that I rescued from a HOF trash pile because his arm (not the left one, fortunately) snapped off. The Sean Casey/Joey Votto/Tony Perez bobblehead, which commemorates my fascination with first basemen, stays, but I managed to part with the 1988 Who Dey and 1990 World Series bandanas by handing them off to the next generation.
“You are almost a man of high school, James, and I think you have enough sense of history to appreciate these,” I said, presenting them to my godson.
“From before I was born!” he said.
Like I said, a battle.
Proud aunt Mary Beth Ellis is a freelance writer and college teacher who lives in Cincinnati, OH. Her home site, BlondeChampagne.com, has existed in at least some form since 2003, and Mary Beth has been a regular columnist with one publication or another from the age of 16. Her first book, Drink to the Lasses, was published in 2006. She currently teaches college, runs personal wine tastings, gives literary readings, and stares into the middle distance.