We haven’t lived there for four years. Firmly established in Duluth, we use the townhouse only for brief visits to the Twin Cities. Even our grandkids call it “Erik’s townhouse” as he’s been its primary occupant. Now that he’s married, it’s time to sell.
It should be easy. It never really became home to us, as we transitioned to Duluth within a year of buying it. It carries no family history. It doesn’t have any claim on our heartstrings. We don’t need any of its furnishings or personal possessions. Crucial items made their way north long ago or been replicated there. Clearing the place out should be straightforward.
I thought we’d dealt with all that when we downsized from our family home to the townhouse. True, that was a thorough house cleaning, sorting and tossing act. We did divest ourselves of a great deal of paraphernalia that we had saved over the years just because we had the space for it. But even then I deferred some decisions. I squirreled things away to deal with later. And later is now.
I’m pretty certain that this malady is confined to the female gender. Rich is far more dispassionate about the whole business. If it were up to him, he’d just clear the place out wholesale. So it’s up to me to go through every item, agonize over what to do with the precious baby clothes, the matching Christmas outfits I made for our kids, the Easter eggs I decorated as a kid, the wedding gifts we no longer use but still carry memories of those who selected them for us. That large oval portrait of great-grandma Julia. It’s hard to part with family heirlooms that no longer fit our lifestyle or decor. My efforts to will the kids into wanting them are fruitless. I’m disappointed but not surprised.
The process is stressful. “Are you still married?” a friend asks following one of our packing trips. How did she know? Nerves frayed, we snap at each other as boxes fill and piles mount for the U-Haul. Sleep is fitful and I feel more tired than when training for a marathon.
They are only things. I like the idea of simplifying and streamlining. In theory. But I’m grateful I don’t have to be there when the Empty the Nest service packs up and carries off the unwanted contents of the townhouse. Seeing the place empty at the end of the day is not as hard. And I console myself with the thought that they will re-purpose as many of the items as possible. I’m glad to see the process completed, and focus on moving forward.
But I’ll be honest. It’s still hard to let go.