Have you ever noticed how your outer and inner states usually reflect each other? I find that it’s especially obvious when entering someone’s home. It’s even obvious to me in my own home.
We all (or, at least, most of us) enjoy when our homes are clean and tidy, but some days there’s just not enough time to keep it up. Some days the kitchen will be a mess and the laundry won’t be sorted – we’ll live. It’s part of life. Other days we find ourselves full of energy and maybe we even enjoy tidying up the living room and doing the bed so it’s ready for the night.
Last summer I sold my lovely, light Copenhagen apartment. It had been my home for 8 years at the time – my sacred haven. During those 8 years I had gone through hangovers, wonders and tragedies within that space and I especially loved returning to the flat every time I had managed to live in a foreign country for a while.
While living abroad I would rent out the flat, usually partly furnished. This meant that I would box up everything I had and left those boxes in the attic and / or basement in the storage rooms that came with the flat.
The last time I returned from being abroad was in August 2012 and I specifically remember having to be careful when opening the door of the attic storage room, as I knew the 12 square meters (about 130 square feet) were stuffed to the rim with boxes and things. The storage room in the basement was pretty much the same story (and the same size).
Back then I wasn’t sure how long I would stay in Copenhagen, so I only took down a few boxes from the attic to begin with. In fact, I ended up living in the flat for 6 months without taking down more than about 6 boxes or so during the time. Then I left for London and everything was boxed up, as I was renting out the flat once more. I never lived in the flat again.
Anyone who has ever lived in London will know that you pay obscene amounts of money for very little living space. My case was no exception. I moved into a room the size of my attic storage space with my two suitcases and this became my home for the next 6 months. Then I met my boyfriend and moved in with him. Even though we have a little more room now (not much more – after all, it is still London) storage space is severely limited, so every time I buy e.g. a new sweater, I have to throw one away. This has probably been one of the most practical educational experiences I’ve had in London: The less room you have, the less crap you gather. Everyone should try it.
Last summer I had lived in London for a few years and could tell I would stay here for quite a while longer, so I decided to sell the flat. I was, however, in no way prepared for the fact that it sold in three days and the buyer wanted to take over the apartment as fast as possible. What was I going to do with all my stuff? After all, I had two storage rooms packed full of memories! If I were to bring all of my things to London there would be no room for my boyfriend or me in our flat.
I ended up doing the only thing I could do. My boyfriend and I went to Denmark for what was supposed to be a weekend all about my childhood friend’s wedding, and managed to fit in one single day (with a very good friend of mine – thanks Christopher) cleaning out the storage rooms. I got rid of three quarters of my belongings that day and we took the rest of my things to my father’s summerhouse, where it is currently stored till it comes to London in a few weeks.
Three quarters of my belongings. Imagine that. How is that even possible? To be honest, I’m not sure I would have been able to throw and give away as much if my circumstances had been different, but the truth of the matter is that storage in London is so limited and so I had no choice.
Surprisingly it was such a freeing experience to get rid of all those things. I had teddy bears and letters from old boyfriends stored away, old essays from third grade, cd’s (Christopher managed to save some of these), cassette tapes from the early 90’s, records, a broken keyboard, furniture I hadn’t used in years, 4 doors (this came as a surprise to my boyfriend especially), candle holders, clothes, flashlights, kitchenware, books from university – you name it, I had it. And now I’m rid of it and it honestly feels amazing!
In many ways cleaning out my storage rooms felt very much like starting a fresh. I have met the man I want to be with for the rest of my life and I’ve started a fantastic life with him in London. I’ve let go of a lot of things that I had kept close ‘just in case’. Emotional baggage I had held on to in order to not lose the people connected to those memories for good. I let go of the past and while doing so I realised that memories are worth much more when they aren’t connected to physical things.
I feel lighter. Happier. And I don’t miss a single thing I’ve thrown away.
When was the last time you cleaned out your closet, so to speak? Have you got excess boxes and bags stored somewhere? Chances are you don’t even know what’s in them. Maybe it’s time for you to thoroughly go through your belongings and give yourself a fresh start?
I once had a colleague who lived in a three bedroom flat. One of the rooms had belonged to her step son – a person she had loved dearly and who was ‘taken’ from her when she split up with his father. When we worked together she told me she hadn’t used her step son’s room since. It had become storage space and she hardly ever was in there. One day, after seeing a healer, she started cleaning out the room. She threw away boxes, tidied up and turned the room into a study. I still remember how uplifted she was when she came to work and told me about this experience. She felt she had finally let go and that a massive weight had been lifted off her shoulders.
So, the question is – what do you need to get rid of? And what have you got to lose, if you start now? Worst case scenario? See below: