Downsizing

Two weeks ago, Steve and I got back from a bike ride to the news that we would have to move–again.

In September, the Boulder flood abruptly forced us out of our two-bedroom apartment in South Boulder. We had 36 hours to pack our things and move. We spent a month at a friend’s in Golden, paying dirt-cheap rent, then moved to a two-bedroom, two-bath condo in northeast Boulder on a month-to-month sublease that just got called–basically, the original tenants want their house back. When we move in January, it’ll be the fourth place we’ve lived in five months.

In looking for our next home, both Steve and I felt the strong urge to downsize. All the moving around in the past few months has given us a new perspective on space and stuff. When the water was rushing down the hall and seeping under the doorways into that 1100-sq foot apartment we once affectionately dubbed “the Mansion”, I thought about how if the place really flooded, I’d be able to take a backpack of stuff and nothing more. When we found out we had to move, the task of packing up ALL of the crap we had accumulated in the past two years was so overwhelming that it took the help of six other people. When it came time assess the things that really mattered, we saw that all this stuff was literally extra baggage that slowed us down from moving forward. And when we moved to Golden, we put most of our things in storage and went down there with one carload of clothes, bikes hanging off the back. It was all we needed.

We viewed a couple of nicer two-bedroom condos earlier this week, but walking through them I couldn’t help but think about how tedious and expensive it would be to furnish so much space. And in contemplating a spare bedroom again, it felt like there were better things to do with our hard-earned money than rent empty bedrooms to store all our things. I thought about how strange we’ve become, human beings. Building massive, airy spaces for ourselves and filling them up with stuff we don’t need. Then working jobs we don’t really like so that we can afford our space and our stuff. I didn’t want to go back to doing that.

***

Well, we found somewhere to live today. Right when we walked in we knew it was the one. It had character, but most importantly it was small–a 600 sq. foot one-bedroom. Just enough for the little furniture we still have and of course, the bikes. The place felt like a safe nest, holding our little life together tightly. The owner also agreed to a flexible six-month lease, and I feel lighter knowing we’re not shackled to the place.

We’ll probably have to get rid of some more stuff to fit into our new home, but I’m actually really looking forward to it. Shedding the unnecessary to get down to the essentials, to be flexible and mobile, and to re-balance. To remember that less stuff you own, the more freedom you have.

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