Clearing Out The Cruft

The times they are a-changin’ around Sacramento. Spring will be here before we know it, and I’ll be making my first big move in almost three years when it does. I’m staying in Sacramento (for now, at least), but my roommates are all moving out and starting new lives in the next couple months. It seems reasonable that I should prepare to do the same thing; after all, this is my year of new beginnings.

As so often happens though, I’m realizing that – despite my best efforts – I have accumulated a lot of stuff that I now have to move. You may recall that I grappled with this exact scenario last time I had the make a major move. I guess it’s almost unavoidable: unless you live out of a suitcase and sleep on an air mattress, there’s always going to be furniture and a great many other things that must be moved along with you. However, I’d bet there’s also plenty in my humble 10×10 bedroom that doesn’t need to be carted to my next abode. Spring is almost here, and it’s time I do a bit of Spring cleaning and clear out all the cruft.

Side note: I love that word! Have you ever heard the term “cruft” before? It’s pretty great!

We all probably have too much extra stuff in our homes. I know we all enjoy our possessions, but there’s something to be said for living a more minimal lifestyle. I have a friend who last year quit her job and spent the next three months globe-trotting just because she wanted to. When I asked her how she was able to be so spontaneous, she told me that her trip actually took quite a bit of planning. Her entire lifestyle was built around the idea that she could suddenly decide to pull up stakes and go live somewhere else. According to her, she doesn’t own any more than can easily fit in a couple of suitcases. When she decided that it was time for her to leave, all she had to do was pack those couple bags, sell a couple pieces of furniture, and buy her plane ticket.

This is not something I could have done for a variety of reasons, but chief among them would be figuring out what to do with all my stuff. I could probably box up my clothes and books and smaller possessions and simply store them at my mom’s house, but what about all my furniture? I basically live in my bedroom, so I could probably just sell the dresser and nightstand and whatnot, but suppose I lived in that fully-furnished hypothetical apartment. Suddenly that spontaneous trip becomes much more difficult to realize.

This isn’t about not having possessions. I actually find uber-minimalists really annoying. I remember one reading an article about the 100 the author owned and why, which instead of being inspiring or informative just came off as smug. That’s not my scene. My current roommate has a boyfriend who lives out of his minivan ostensibly, and it’s not because he couldn’t afford to live on his own (far from it, actually). He chooses to live in his car because he doesn’t want to own too many things, and this was his solution.

However, there is something instructive that I’ve gleaned from these people: we tend to own a lot of stuff. We need a lot of it, certainly – I don’t plan on throwing out my bed or all my clothes any time soon – but there are just as many things that we could live without. I certainly wouldn’t want to live in my car, but if – hypothetically – I got a job that required moving to New York, it would be nice if I could pack up 90% of my possessions in my car and buy whatever else I needed when I arrived. In a sense, this ties into my goal of “living in the cloud” from last year. A lot of my limited storage space has been given away to house my tangible media like books, DVDs, and music. If all or most of my media was digital and stored in one of Amazon’s or Google’s servers, then all I’d really have to transport from house to house is my computer, tablet, or whatever device I wanted to use to access it.

Admittedly, this is a twenty-six year old talking, so I’m probably prone to bouts of wanderlust. Maybe this is something I should be prepared for though, at least in the short term. I never expected to travel to New York (at least without spending a small fortune), but then suddenly my best friend was living in Brooklyn with a spare bedroom. I don’t know what opportunities life will present me, but I do know that I want to be as ready as I can.