The Great Purge

Less is more. You will often hear this from Minimalist and it’s something that I have quoted before myself. It’s simple and to the point. This past weekend we removed the last of our possessions from our home on Stillmeadow drive. The closing isn’t for another week, but we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time to go through some items and to separate things. Things we need in the apartment now, things we want in Asheville, and things we just need to get rid of. We actually moved out last Monday, but we needed the weekend to finish going through a few things. Particularly the basement where Carrie had a studio and we stored a lot of artwork.

We have been purging and packing since November when we decided to list our house. Really we started this process when we remodeled the kitchen last year. At that time we got rid of about half the items we had in the kitchen. I think I have lost count at this point, but we took around 12 truck loads of stuff to goodwill. I made 3 trips to the recycling center. And I may have snuck 3 truck loads of garbage to a dumpster at an apartment complex near our house. And my brother in law came and took a truckload and trailer full of furniture that his family could use. We cut a king size bed, a queen bed, a twin bed, an entertainment center, a couch, a tv, a dresser, a side table, a desk, and an armoire. Those are just the highlights. There were so many smaller items that it’s hard to even track those. And with all of that we still have a 15 x 8 storage unit that is full of stuff right now.

And after all of this I feel like we could downsize some more. The apartment is cozy and we only brought what we thought we needed for it, but we still feel like we could remove some things. Particularly the kitchen. Now, we have made three rounds of reductions in the kitchen already, so this just goes to show that downsizing is a process and not something that is one and done. You have to work at it and you have to be ready to let things go.

“I think we get rid of these plates. We only need two.”, Carrie says. I have created a monster.


Although I have been on the downsizing train for a few years now, Carrie has been less enthusiastic about it. It’s taken her a little more time to come around to it. But something clicked during this process. One of the reasons the basement was still waiting for us was that she was going to have to go through this stuff and it was going to an emotional journey as much as anything else. But she did a great job. I think she did a better job with this than I did.

I met Carrie in 1991, but we really didn’t start to become friends until 1994. In that year I attended a gallery opening where Carrie was showing her work. I think it was her first showing post college. It was early in our friendship and I was impressed by her confidence and her work. So, I have to admit, I had a little trouble this weekend when I took those paintings that were hung on the wall that day and hefted them into the dumpster.

“Are you sure”, I asked her. She was. And she was right. For twenty years those paintings have either lived under our bed or in the corner of the basement. And although they represent her early work, they don’t reflect who she is today. But still. I don’t have anything that has that since of self to it. Or that attachment. I think I would have failed this one. She’s definitely stronger than me.

This has been a journey that has been liberating. Getting rid of these things and just getting back to the basics has been wonderful. It’s something that we had to give ourselves permission to do. It’s okay to let things go. We still own a lot of things and we are definitely not through with this process. But by any measure we are rich in what we own. And now we are richer in time and spirit as well.

  • Kristi Craib says:

    I’ve been trying to get rid of a few things here and there. But I hold tightly to so many items because of the memories associated with them. Hopefully, I can get to the point of “letting go”, as Carrie and you have done. You guys have inspired me to say the least. Enjoy your new journey together as you prepare to move to another state .

    • Brian says:

      I know what you mean. Those are the things that I have the hardest time letting go. I can give away a $3000 ambouir, but a table that carrie’s dad made for us I just can’t let go. We haven’t sold anything, but given things away. Things that had symptimental value to us, we found people that could use them. Other things went to Goodwill. It made it much easier knowing that someone else would find use and joy from it. The memories don’t go away. And other people are now creating new memories with it that they will cherish.

  • Barbara Pentz says:

    Can I borrow the 2 of you? Tom says I am a hoarder and I think it may be in our genes. Remember your Grandfather,Brian.? Wish I had all your energy to rid some of my ‘STUFF”.

    • Brian says:

      Yeah, I think you may be on to something there. Have you seen dad’s garage lately? It’s easy to get caught up and want to keep things. You never know if you might need that “one day”. I tell you though, it feels so good to be rid of it.