My Las Vegas house is about 1,800 square feet with a decent backyard and a two-car garage that offers plenty of storage space. The condominium my husband and I will occupy when I move to Massachusetts in two months is 800 square feet.
No balcony, no walk-in closets, no storage. No joke.
The big move has officially introduced the big purge. But what no one tells you about a bulimic house is that the homeowner suffers the most.
Downsizing teaches you a few things about yourself, namely where you rank on the sentimentality scale.
When contemplating whether to toss, keep or donate any given item that fills my house, its origins take over my emotions. Thoughts include how it came into my ownership, the significance of that specific time of my life, and the poem or love song it could undoubtedly inspire.
Parting with something like my stuffed Minnie Mouse doll probably shouldn’t become a three-tissue ordeal. Likewise, the dusty box that holds, not CDs but just cases of CDs ranging from Jewel, the Notorious B.I.G. and Faith Evans — all of which are on my 21st century iPod — should be as easy to trash as a box of eight-track tapes. Yet, it still feels like I’m pouring a glass of lemonade in my kitchen as bulldozers close in on my living room.
Yes, this is probably the stuff that Hoarders Anonymous meetings are made of. But I’m no hoarder. I’m just a sentimental chick with a lot of stuff.
Aside from the obvious keepers, such as every note my junior high friends ever wrote me — clearly, I took their advice and stayed “supersweet” — there are items that spur even more internal debate simply for their space consumption. Take my bike.
My dear, beloved bike.
This bike represents far more than fitness, folks. It came into my life the summer of eighth grade, when my 14-year-old self desperately needed a self-esteem catapult.
All my friends got mountain bikes that year. For me to join the neighborhood cruising, my mom insisted I earn half of the $200 cost of the bike. At my house, that meant yardwork.
We had a big front yard, the kind that is a benefit when selling a house but a burden when owning it. Trees, both tall and lanky and short and stout, camouflaged the front view. Shrubs lined the sidewalk and plants and flowers dotted the rest of the grassless front yard. The back was all lawn.
I weeded, mowed and otherwise maintained every inch of it for weeks.
It took more than a year for the tan lines on my back to fade, but the bike, the purple shiny five-speed mountain bike, was parked in my garage by midsummer.
There’s a certain freedom that comes with bike-riding when school is out for three months. It’s probably the equivalent of speeding down the Pacific Coast Highway, with the top down, as an adult.
The story of my bike returned with vivid detail when I recently saw it leaning against the back of my mom’s house, covered in debris with a tangle of vines wrapped around the handlebars. It came with me when I moved to Vegas 10 years ago, but got as much use as that fitness contraption you impulse-purchased one late, lonely night. When my husband and I moved in together, my dad took the bike back to Utah with him.
During a recent visit home, I asked him to put air in the tires. That was either a very smart or very dumb move, depending on how you look at it.
The thought of the home-purge tapped my shoulder, but the 14-year-old in me shoved it away.
More than youth and the freedom that comes with it, my bike represents hard work, diligence and the rewards afforded by both.
This grown-up girl will be jobless when she moves to Boston. That’s a scary feeling. And that’s precisely why my bike is coming with me.
Contact Xazmin Garza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0477. Follow her on Twitter @startswithanx.