- Objectively speaking, there are items of worth in there that can be donated and be of use to someone else.
- The garage is attached to the house, and therefore a fire in it could be less useful than I might otherwise suppose.
- The kids don't really need to see their mom go to jail for arson.
Due to the weather being hot and the garage generally being filthy and spiderwebbed, I have been working on cleaning it out in (very) short bursts. I tried to make these daily, but one day of a higher-than-average number of PTA emails and calls blew that plan (and my diligence has been sporadic ever since). Nevertheless, I've made some minor progress while causing an explosion of stuff all over what remained of the visible garage floor.
I started out by cleaning out the cabinet just next to the door into the house. When we moved into the house, the previous owners had used this tall, relatively shallow cupboard to store old paint and other chemicals, which my father pointed out was perhaps not the best idea given that it is right next to the water heater. Over the years I had filled it with old toys, empty boxes for our wedding china, spare tiles for our bathroom, half a bag of concrete mix, and various other odds and ends. In emptying it to restock the shelves with things I had definitely decided to keep (for now, anyway) and which had good reasons for being easily accessible from the house, I unearthed delightful items such as a rubber ball found years ago in a hedge, which had actually gone sticky from being in our overheated garage for many summers.
As I expanded my range I found items that I had once put away on the theory that I might want to use them again some day. However, standing (on average) knee-deep in old junk brought me the clarity to realize that I was never going to reinstall the brass toilet paper holder that I thought was too ugly to keep in the half bathroom. Likewise, I had stored some of the boys' old lunch boxes on the theory that if they lost their current ones, we would have backups. However, I cleared out the inventory because a seventh grader is more likely to choose starvation over using their old ripped first-grade Cars lunch box.
Not everything I found went into the trash. I took several bags of random old baby clothes and other oddments, plus the high chair, over to Goodwill last week. (Don't ask me how I keep finding baby clothes around here--I thought I had done a very thorough purge after Son #3's babyhood. Since I found a few more items AFTER my trip to Goodwill, I'm beginning to suspect the baby clothes are sprouting in the dark like mushrooms. Or else someone is messing with me.) On a day when I was feeling particularly overwhelmed and indecisive, I salvaged my cleaning session by dumping a large pile of old proofs from a year-old proofreading job in the recycle bin.
Finally, I sent my husband to the household hazardous waste center with more dead batteries (!) and an assortment of old electronics, including a TV antenna he guessed was from our apartment in Berkeley (and therefore completely incompatible with modern TV technology) and a cordless phone set we discarded because the rechargeable batteries in the handsets would no longer hold a charge. My husband, while not thrilled to go on this particular errand, I think accepted it as the price he has to pay for not having to sort through the junk himself, particularly given that he is not fond of spiders. Good thing, too, because I know there is a dead Xbox out there somewhere, and as long as we've waited this long to clean the place out, we're going to do it properly.
So I've made some reasonable progress on the reboot of the 1,000-Pound Project, as follows:
50.8 pounds donated clothes, shoes, household items, and high chair
19.8 pounds recycled proofs
11.6 pounds trash (including WTF items like the sticky ball noted above)
13.8 pounds batteries and e-waste
Total: 96 pounds
The bad news is that this hardly looks like I did anything at all, except make a bigger mess by tearing apart the carefully stacked piles of boxes and bags to investigate their contents. In eleven years of living in this house, we've transformed from a family of three with barely enough furniture to provide something to sit down on in each room of the house, to a family of five bursting the house at the seams with all of our stuff. The mess in the garage did not happen all at once; it grew gradually out of a series of decisions (or indecisions, as the case may be), which resulted in a growing accretion of papers, toys, appliances, sporting equipment, holiday decorations, luggage, and yes, out and out trash.
Do I wish I'd thrown more stuff out along the way? Bought less? Recognized when things that had outlived their usefulness here needed to head on to their second life somewhere else? Yes, yes, and yes. But I didn't, so now I get to enjoy my karma.
Karma always seems funnier when it is happening to someone else.