We are spending a month in Washington to enjoy our last foreseeable spring in Georgetown, a gloriously gardened and architecturally resplendent enclave. Spring is beautiful in D.C. and Georgetown is the most beautiful neighborhood.
That is the upside. The downside is that we are packing the house for our final retreat, our preantepenultimate downsizing. Intellectually, I am good with that. We cannot carry unnecessary housing square footage. Emotionally, too, I am good with that. I want to be in a smaller and quieter place. But somewhere in between intellect and emotion, I am torn.
Everywhere I look there is a decision to be made: keep, toss, sell, give away. I don’t want to make the choice. I have used none of the contents of the house for a year and most of the contents have lain unused for much longer. I have no need for any of it in rural Maine where our small house is comfortably furnished, clothes are worn into comfortable rags and most people are uncomfortable with high society affectations.
Yet I am frequently stuck or only haltingly willing to let go. I don’t need those neck ties or cufflinks. I don’t need a leather chair. I don’t need a tuxedo any more. But memories swirl around each object. What makes me cling to them? Is this the hardest move, away from upward mobility?
Then I look around this neighborhood of extraordinary prosperity and I see fresh construction, moving vans, delivery trucks, heavily laden shoppers and I want to reach out and shake some sense into my neighbors. I want to say, “Hey, stop acquiring things, you will just have to let them go later.”
Downsizing hurts but it shouldn’t. It should be empowering. It should be liberating. It should be about gaining freedom – not giving up “stuff.” Maybe I can keep the memories.