Residential stability allows feeble and ugly furniture to breed
Burt's Eye View
The stability of life has overcrowded my house.
Decades ago, I lived a migratory life. Every three years, I uprooted my belongings and set off for a new apartment or a different rental shack. Every three years, I shoved boxes, bags and trunks into one of two conveyances — a truck or a dumpster.
I despised the stress and trauma of moving, but it helped contain the clutter of the ages.
That ended in 1997 when I became a homeowner. For the last 23 years, I have been overrun by an overabundance of stability.
Furniture moves in. Electronics move in. Clothing moves in. Books, magazines, manuals, warranties and reams of other paperwork move in.
Nothing moves out.
The other day, I came across a bundle of second-grade schoolwork. Our “babies” are in their mid-30s. That would have been bad enough if the reports and coloring pages had been theirs. They were mine.
Mom found my school papers when she and Dad moved out of their longtime home a couple years ago. In my parents’ purge, she returned my saved schoolwork to me. And here it apparently will fester until all the accumulated stability finally forces me into once again moving away from my junk.
In our transient society, a primal law of nature — Survival of the Fittest (or Lightest) Furniture — weeds weak and wobbly furnishings from households. The longer it takes to load a moving truck, the more keenly discerning a person becomes. “I can still use that” quickly becomes “Why is this thing still here? Out it goes!”
Refrigerators, dishes, parts of the complete set of dining room chairs, bulky dressers belonging to spouses and other conveniences lose all sentimental and practical value. When the moving van is full, anything else is left behind.
“Have you seen my shoes?” she’ll ask.
“Ran out of room,” he’ll reply. “You’re going to have to share mine.”
“Why didn’t you leave yours behind? They’re twice as big as what I wear.”
“Don’t worry. More will come.”
It’s another law of nature — the longer one stays in one place, the more stuff shows up. Always.
Residential stability allows feeble and ugly furniture to breed. Mutated goodies rescued from yard sales and store markdown piles stay. A mounting accumulation of toys, coats, books, centerpieces, and assorted neighborhood dogs, cats and squirrels lay claim to what you thought was your place.
It used to be that when this happened to me, threatening me with the necessity of spring cleaning, I’d move instead, abandoning mounds of furniture, magazines, outgrown clothes and fast food collector’s cups, all bagged and measuring three times the actual square footage of the home it came from.
The one benefit of stability — my friends take my phone calls now that they’re not so suspicious that I’m rounding up help for another move.
Also, my favorite chair is still around. It wobbles, wiggles and features a sinkhole where a cushion should be, but it’s still there. Until the next move, when the circle of dilapidated life begins again.
— If you have a moving van Cole can borrow for the next purge, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or @BurtonWCole on Twitter.