Part of me was resigned to never seeing any of our stuff ever again after we left Norfolk. Tractor-trailers get in accidents, storage facilities get separated, moldy, or who knows—infested with vermin? Containers fall off ships. Stuff gets misplaced.
So I was pretty surprised when our stuff arrived in unexpectedly good condition. A few things were damaged, some beyond repair, but surprisingly (to me), all our stuff was THERE. Then the only problem was…ALL OUR STUFF WAS THERE. SO MUCH STUFF.
Coconut Cottage is less than half—literally less than half—the square footage of our Florida Casa. It’s half the size of our Norfolk house. It was time to make some tough decisions. But they turned out to be pretty easy decisions. Why?
By now everyone on Earth, Mars and Saturn has read the Japanese joy-sparking tidying book by Marie Kondo. I’ve read it twice! I’m pretty good at purging and we do that when we move in and when we move out, at a minimum. We still have a lot of junk…er, treasure.
Here’s what made reducing our stuff substantially so easy this time:
- We hadn’t seen it in 10 months, so it was easy to pinpoint how much I liked something. The “joy” some objects evoked compared to others was almost tangible. It felt like getting a gift. “THIS! I LOVE this! I never thought I’d see this again!” my heart would sore. It’s kind of how I imagine Heaven will be—not getting gifts or sorting junk, but discovering with joy what lasted, what mattered, what echoed through eternity: good work done faithfully, kindness and love, trust. Other objects were immediately like, “I haven’t needed this in 10 months and I have no idea where it would even go. Someone else should deal with this junk.” TOSS.
- Having less space actually gave me the freedom to get rid of things I was keeping out of obligation. “Should I keep this?” was instantly followed with, “…and where?” TOSS.
Yet beyond that, unpacking stuff I hadn’t seen in so long was difficult. Eloise pushed some buttons on a Little People pink playhouse our friends gave us a few months before we all moved and when the ridiculous song sang out, it emotionally zipped me back to Norfolk so fast my head spun. I missed my Norfolk buddies like I hadn’t missed them in months. I missed the kids’ friends. I wept with grief over the newborn misery the kids and I survived and the loving moments passed forever. It was so weird. It was so exhausting.
Now we’ve been settled in for a solid few months. The stuff has had the opportunity to sink little roots into our lives, so now if I look at a cabinet of crap it all protests, “Nooooo! I live here! Put me back! Put me baaaack!” Insidious objects. I need to be strong—with all four of our birthdays in our family happening within three weeks of each other, we’re due for a post-birthday, pre-holidays junk purge.
Life is crazy; I need my house to be calm. My kids are happier and I’m more patient when the counter tops are clear, nothing is sticky, and there’s no junk on the floor. To this end, the Coconut Cottage has a very cool feature: a random utility room in the middle of the house. This puzzled me at first, because someone turned the original house’s two bed, one bath layout into a three bed, two bath, but one of the original bedrooms became this kitchen-like laundry room of shelves, sink, and indoor washer/dryer (unusual in Hawaii, where most W/Ds are outside). IT IS THE BEST. It keeps the rest of the house tidy and running smoothly. There are hooks for backpacks, a closet for the vacuum and laundry baskets, cabinets and shelves for appliances and everything else. It’s just what I never knew I always needed! The nice layout and awesome utility room are what make everyone say, “This feels really spacious!” And the gorgeous Ko’olau views.
That’s all I have to say about unpacking, I guess. It’s hard, it’s emotional, I don’t want to do it again anytime soon, and it was sad to get rid of our king sized bed, but you know what? If it doesn’t fit in Coconut Cottage, I don’t really need it.