Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Keep it Simple

It turns out that simplifying our lives isn't all that simple.

How small a place can we move into? Will two bedrooms be enough? Can we be happy without a terrace? How much of my studio should I dismantle? Where will we put all our stuff? How much privacy do we each need?

Last week we had our home appraised. Tonight, the real estate agent was in a tizzy. She had it all figured out: she knew of a young couple looking to move into a larger place. They were already familiar with our building, and wanted to buy into it. If we liked their apartment, then we could buy theirs, they could buy ours, and within a month we'd each be settling into our new homes.


Even though that was moving much too fast for us (yes, even for me), we agreed to look at their apartment. The location was perfect. The apartment was in move-in condition.

But at 90 square meters, and only two bedrooms, it feels too soon to move into a place that is so much smaller than ours. It's great that it's on street level....but not so great, because in Israel people hang out on the street until 1 or 2 am, talking, laughing, honking their horns...better to have a flight or so to walk up, and have some privacy and quiet. Can we really live without a terrace? As soon as we walked into the living room, we had an urge to push out the wall so that we could sit outside... And, where the heck would we put all our stuff?!

Back at home, we started looking around and figuring out how much we would need to get rid of in order to fit into that apartment. The cabinet filled with antique dishes I'd been collecting would have to go. OK, I can live with that. I'll keep a few of my favorites to pass on to our grandchildren, but I can part with the rest. The chests of drawers in the guest room, the extra beds and sofa beds, the closets, most of our bookcases, all the furniture in the back den, at least half my studio... no problem. Half the contents of our kitchen...well, OK. Everything in our storage room.. sure, why not.

Hmm...maybe it is doable after all. But, not in one month's time. Not even in three- not with the holidays and my subsequent trip coming up. I could be packed up and have all the extra stuff sold off by March.

Well, unless we find the perfect apartment... then I guess I could somehow, however frentic the time would be, have it all done in a month or two..

It seems like I've just finally put behind memories of packing and unpacking boxes, of daily hauls of things we were ready to discard, of hours upon hours of filing, marking, labeling, decision making, of hands raw from taping. Where did all this stuff come from?!

I've got the feeling that the biggest challenge won't be in reducing the amount of stuff we have, but rather in making sure that once we've gotten rid of it, we stop accumulating more. Maybe that should be my new meditation mantra: 'keep it simple.'

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