Tuesday, October 27, 2009

CLEANING OUT THE CLOSET

As of today, I'm rededicating myself to an old mission: downsizing. It's a process I actually began when I decided to leave New York City for Buenos Aires, but I'm about to put it back into active rotation. My inspiration: selling my New York City apartment, which, come to think of it, is downsizing of the most drastic kind.

If all goes well, the closing will be around mid-January, and my plan is to throw away at least one thing every day between now and when I go to New York for the closing. Today I tossed a publicity cap from Personal, my mobile phone carrier, and a zip-up track-suit top with the word "Brooklyn" written across the front. God knows what I was thinking when I bought it (or the one I may or may not hang onto with "Buenos Aires" as its logo design)!

Leaving New York was one of the hardest things I've ever done. Not because saying goodbye to the city was so difficult. The packing was murder. It took me a full month to toss out half of my belongings, pack up the rest and ship it off to storage, where so many possessions I thought were indispensable have been out of sight and more or less out of mind for three years now. As I locked the front door of my apartment for the very last time, I promised myself that going forward, I'd always keep my possessions at a level that would allow me to pick up and leave any city, without warning, in less than 24 hours.

And I've more or less done just that. But I could do better. I figure that if I practice getting rid of things for the next two and a half months, by the time I get to New York and finally clear out my storage space I will be able to dump ruthlessly without a tinge of regret.

Something tells me that it will be easier said than done. But if I could sell my beloved apartment and leave my good friends behind, how hard can it be to kiss all those clothes, books and nick nacks goodbye once and for all? My goal is to keep a minimum of 20 percent and give the rest to charity or the dumpster outside of my storage space in Brooklyn. Then I'll probably keep half of that and give the rest away to friends.

I've been paying $135 a month to hang onto all of that stuff since September 2006. When I think of what I could have done with that money -- and all that we spend to obtain things and then to keep them (rent, insurance, security and general upkeep) -- it makes me want to go out and indulge in a little retail therapy. But I think I'll rip something up and toss it instead. And if I can really pull of this downsizing thing, when I ditch Buenos Aires this South American summer for a couple of months in Europe or perhaps Australia, the fewer things I have, the easier it will be to pack.
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