Being out of my house for almost 2 months has made me realize I have entirely too much stuff
OPINION: Living life like a nomad has been a revelation and has me kinda, sorta considering how to live a minimalistic life.
Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
It’s been almost two months since my family had to move out of our home and into a rotating set of Airbnbs and hotels while we waited for work to be completed on our home. Back in October, we discovered water damage after we had a plumber address a leak in the house, and well, here we are, dealing with all of the joys and pains of homeownership in other people’s homes. Let me tell you, there’s nothing like being out of your own house while it’s being renovated and realizing that the Airbnb you’re in also needs some work done. Whew, chile.
Obviously, since my family of six has been out of our house, we’ve been experiencing a downsized lifestyle, living out of suitcases with the bare minimum amount of clothes, shoes, toys, etc. And you know what? It’s been working. I’m a person with WAY more shoes than I need. I’ve been wearing a rotation of four shoes since we left, and I haven’t really missed the daily grind of deciding what I’m going to wear based on what shoes I feel like wearing that day. Shoot, I’ve been wearing various combinations of the same clothes — washed frequently, of course — and I haven’t felt deprived at all. Granted, I haven’t been attending fancy gatherings or events, and the one time I did need to get dressed up, I went to my house and got a suit. I’m just saying, I’m enjoying this life where I don’t have a ton of stuff bogging me down.
Contrast that to the scene at my home yesterday where I have people laying down carpet to address the holes in my old carpet created by my water damage issue. I, like many folks I know, have a book collection. I have two bookcases that sit face-to-face on my second floor and really, I need another one. Well, for the carpet folks to do their carpet thing I had to MOVE all of the books off the shelves, and I have never been so over my books. I wanted to get rid of them all and devote my life to listening to audiobooks. I cannot tell you how annoyed I got with each armful of books I had to take off the shelves and move to my stairs to wait for when I’d have to add them BACK to the shelves. That made me think about the vast array of shoes I’ve already decided I am kind of over that I will also have to move back when the work is all done in my house. Needless to say, “over it all” doesn’t quite cover it.
And then I took stock of all the stuff we have in our rooms that has to be reshuffled and repositioned in order to get the house back to its normal state — with new carpet — and frankly, I wanted to throw the whole house away. Of course, this is me thinking about having to do all of the work of getting back to normal. But truly, living a minimalist life — shouts to the Afrominimalist, Christine Platt — has been eye-opening, a revelation, if you will. My wife and I are looking around at all we have accrued — and with four kids, you tend to accrue a lot — and we came to the same conclusion: We should take stock of our stuff and get rid of what we don’t need.
Look, when I get back in the house and the old comforts of home settle in, I might not be concerned any longer about downsizing. When the family is big and active, any sort of cleaning feels like a daunting, neverending task. But I definitely am looking at all of my shoes, books and even my vinyl differently. I’m seriously considering creating more space in my home by getting rid of a sizable portion of my collection — ya know, addition by subtraction.
I will say, living minimally seems exciting right now, and maybe my wife and I will lean into this and make it happen. Maybe. All I know is that we have more stuff than we need and something has to give.
Excuse me, I need to go call Peloton to get them to pick up this bike.
Panama Jackson is a columnist at theGrio. He writes very Black things, drinks very brown liquors, and is pretty fly for a light guy. His biggest accomplishment to date coincides with his Blackest accomplishment to date in that he received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey after she read one of his pieces (biggest), but he didn’t answer the phone because the caller ID said: “Unknown” (Blackest).
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