January 12, 2007

The Dumpster

Twenty two years together is a long time. That's how long George and I have been George and I.

That also represents more than two decades of collecting memories. And stuff.

A lot of stuff.

From reel-to-reels to 8-tracks to LPs to CDs (we were there for all of them), and back again. From old photos to super 8s to dvds. Broken electronics and broken chairs, old Halloween wigs, 6 vacuums, dish racks, cords and screws, boxes of books and magazines, 20 years of joint tax returns plus receipts, moldy clothes and infomercial exercise equipment, license plates and out-of-state drivers' licenses. It's all there.

We've lived in this house for 11 years now, and the items above represent the contents of just one corner of our garage and downstairs. Which is why we finally made the mature and wise decision to rent a dumpster for a week and let go of some of our treasures... err stuff... okay junk.

Working together to get it done has been a painful process, not just because of the memories unearthed from the bottom of ordinary-looking cardboard boxes, but because we approach the task of "cleaning out the garage" in very different ways.

George is a go-through-every-box-waste-not-want-not, highly resourceful person who can find a use for just about any piece of wood, metal, mineral or vegetable. I'm of the opinion that unless I would physically pick up an item to carry to a hypothetical new house -- either because it means that much to me or it's that indispensable -- then it's time to let go of it.

Those two dumpster approaches aren't exactly symbiotic. But as a system of checks and balances, it works.

How it works is like this: I almost get to throw something away, and he brings it back and matches it with some other part he picks up from seemingly nowhere, which I had no idea was in any way related to the item I was about to toss. And then he says, "See?" Some choice words usually follow from both of us. It's been a long week.

On the important things, we agree--and that's sort of how Dumpster Use equates to real-life. Husband and Wife coming together to agree on which crap is really crap: the non-working, rusted-through barbeque grill, GONE; the old, rusted deck chairs and table, GONE; the roll-away crib, in my van for the mission; toddler toys of Jenna's, bye-bye! And let's not forget the five boxes of samples from my portfolio, too much hard-copy for my new world of work, GONE.

And so it has been, since Monday. Work and Dumpster, Work and Dumpster, that has been the routine. Sometimes it varies--dumpster and work, dumpster and work.

No matter how you slice it though, it's been a trying walk through the last two decades of our lives--and many boxes from further back, from our own childhoods. I'm hoping that there's a therapeutic release when the dumpster company pulls away old Nelly on Monday. I only know one thing--the dumpster will be gone, along with every irretrievable scrap inside it.

Big Sigh.

In the mean time, you know where we'll be. Send Motrin.

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