I was talking to my friend Brigid shortly before my most recent move and we were discussing how hard it is to downsize. I was under the impression that I’d be moving into a high-rise with no space to store my collection of useless crap and I was looking for a sympathetic ear to listen to me whine about how sad it is when you have to give way your possessions.
“Not for me,” Brigid said. “I don’t save stuff. I’m not a saver.”
To which I replied: “__________________!”
That’s right. I was speechless. Is Brigid another species? Even though our lives are eerily similar – husbands work in the same field at the same level, we both have three kids, we share two states of residency in common, same religion, education level, and she’s from Pittsburgh, where all of my relatives are from. So we’re practically related. We’re even roughly the same height and dress size. But the fact that she is “not a saver” and I keep a diaper bag in my bedroom closet with receiving blankets and onesies from each of my babies – laundered and carefully folded as if they’re going to be used again, ever – makes us polar opposites.
So we discussed why I’m right and she’s wrong and I learned something about myself: I might not be right all the time.
I know. It was a shock to me, too.
There appears to be something liberating about giving things away, living a simpler life, without a lot of old, useless stuff dragging you down.
What else I learned about myself is that my aversion to downsizing is actually two-pronged. I am a saver, and I’m a stasher.
Stashing is a type of hoarding that I just made up. In fact I’m making it up as I write this. Stashing is the irresistible urge to have virtually everything on hand for every conceivable need. Having a Bellini brunch for 12 during Easter? I’ve got the placemats, tablecloths, champagne glasses, three crystal carafes, luncheon plates, and a stained-glass brunch bunny for the centerpiece. Having the entire track team for a spaghetti dinner? I have the big pasta dish and heavy duty napkins. Hosting a tea? I’ve got a collection of fancy china tea pots, a punchbowl, and hand embroidered napkins. Having anything? Anything at all? I have the Farberware coffee server, creme brûlée flame thrower, individual mini-meatloaf pans, and cupcake sprinkles in every American holiday theme. I also have 2,000 red Solo cups in three sizes. And I would love to loan you all of the above.
In other words, I’m your go-to girl when it comes to supplies. Before you buy a single thing, check with me and see if I have it. I probably do.
My husband and I used to throw some big parties. For one of them, we bought 60 wine glasses. For another we bought 60 dinner plates, and for another we bought 50 appetizer plates. I was in charge of centerpieces for a non-profit banquet once, and I sprung for 42 bud vases.
“We’ll reimburse you,” they said. “No, don’t,” I said. “I want them when we’re done.”
Why? Why would I want 42 bud vases in my home? ‘Cuz I’m a stasher, that’s why. Other people swell with pride over the car they drive, the bikini they still look good in, or their advanced degrees. I beam over party supply quantities. You may have a Christopher Guy sofa, but I have 13 royal blue plastic tablecloths. Boom.
It’s not just party supplies. I tend to buy two of everything, just because. When moving my laundry supplies into our house, I noticed I have two bottles of Wine Away, the spray red wine stain remover. Two bottles. How many red wine spills are in my future, realistically? I bought it because of one wine stain on one tablecloth, which required 7-8 squirts, yet when I ran to the liquor store to get it, I felt compelled to buy two.
As it turned out, I did not move into a high-rise. Nor did we get the house where the “study” was a shallow cut-out in an upstairs hall, nor the house where the bedroom closet looked like the tiny entrance to the Keebler elves’ tree. Nor the house that boasted “lots of storage!!” and it was a coffin-sized chest in the back yard. I ended up with plenty of storage to keep my stasher’s stash.
So for all that talk with Brigid about how downsizing is good for the soul, and purging useless possessions can improve the quality of your life, I’m still stashing. However, I just loaned some things to my sister for a reception she’s hosting next month. I’m invited and you can bet your ass I’ll be bragging about my stuff.
“Those deviled egg trays? Yeah, they’re mine. And there’s more where that came from.”
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Diane’s book, Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves is available on Amazon.com, onBarnesandNoble.com and signed by the author by request.