Fine line between trash and treaure

You pride yourself on being a person who is not terribly attached to earthly possessions, and then you have to part with something and feel your grip tighten.

Our oldest daughter is having trouble letting go of a red couch. If you saw the couch you’d say, “That way to the dump!”

It’s not the couch she’s having trouble letting go of as much as the memories. It was their first sofa. It has been loaded and unloaded onto moving trucks seven times. Three kids have drooled on it, dripped on it and jumped on it. It’s so worn the only way you could sell it would be in the dark, which is probably why it’s in the basement.

Yet she’s having a hard time letting go and asked if I thought that was weird.

“Completely,” I said. “You get it from me.”

When we were ready to get rid of our baby things, I sold our crib at the neighborhood garage sale. I had pieces of it in the garage and the other pieces to it still in the house. A young woman said she wanted to buy it. My throat tightened and the tears began to well. She pulled out cash and I perked up.

But by the time I returned with the other pieces to the crib, I was all out bawling. Tears, blubbering, sobbing. “Have you considered that maybe you’re not ready to sell it?” the woman asked.

“No-o-o-o,” I wailed. More sobbing. My vision was so blurred by tears that I nearly hit her with one of the side rails.

“It’s fine, really,” I cried. “Take it.”

Our attachment to stuff grows in direct relationship to the amount of time it has sat in one place. The longer it sits, the harder it is to get rid of it. You think, “Hey, we’ve hung onto it this long—it must be valuable!” As though yellowing, a layer of dust and the scent of mildew increase value.

Our accumulations of treasures expand in relation to the ever-increasing size of our houses. And when we outgrow the storage space in our homes, we pay someone else to store it. Storage unit facilities multiply faster than feral cats. There’s money to be made from people who can’t let go.

The most extreme inability to part with things has been parlayed into entertainment in the form of a television show called “Hoarders.” If an episode of that isn’t depressing enough for you, producers now offer “Extreme Hoarders.” Both of which are not to be outdone by “Storage Wars,” a show about aggressive people who bid on other people’s abandoned storage units. (Now taking opening bids on treasures stored in the attic space over our garage!)

Let the sofa go, I told my daughter. It served its purpose. You can get a new one. Give the kids some crackers and juice boxes and it will be like the old one in six weeks.

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