As we prepared to downsize, we looked around the house with dread. We were going from a 3+2 with garage/workshop, back and front yard to a one bedroom apartment with no balcony. How can we ever let go of enough of these things?
What started out as a dreadful task turned out to be a most interesting juxtaposition of human connection and transaction. That one decision we made to move impacted so many lives in such a positive way. We could not have imagined that selling/donating our “stuff” would end up being such a beautiful thing.
We offered the family first dibs on some tools, instruments, and handmade furniture. If you have to part with your treasures, giving it to loved ones eases the heartbreak. It warmed our hearts to know that our family would be enjoying our copper sheets, premium lumber, Martin guitar, microphones, handmade bookshelves, chisels and power tools.
Our beloved SawStop table saw was purchased by a guy in Utah who drove all the way to our house to pick it up and drove right back. He used to be a professional wood turner, and is now diversifying into general woodworking. He couldn’t find a retailer for the SawStop where he lives and he couldn’t believe how cheap we were selling it, with all the extra attachments. This was an amazing deal, even for him. But we didn’t mind as much after meeting our new friend. Getting to know the people you transact with recalibrates your monetary expectation. Somewhere in the equation, genuine appreciation factors in.
Next came the movers, a very friendly crew of three. They carefully wrapped, packaged and sealed everything we were keeping and moved them to the garage. One of them asked us how much we wanted for the flatscreen TV and sound system. He probably thought we were crazy when we replied $150. We liked these guys. They were polite, professional and careful not to scratch any surface during the move. We’d rather sell our TV to them for cheap than sell it to somebody who’s just going to resell it for a profit. Again, the human connection buffered the prices.
Once our selected belongings were moved, we held an online auction to sell everything else. With bids starting at $1, it was heart wrenching to see high-price items sell for so little. It was even more depressing to see that our handmade garden art wasn’t going to bring in much either. These people are so darn cheap! They don’t appreciate the craft, the beauty, the art. All they want is a good deal! But then everything changed on the day of the pickup.
If you’ve ever wanted to let go of stuff but somehow talked yourself out of it, consider how much positivity your letting go could have on somebody else who is on the receiving end. One guy bought our bed and mattress. As George helped him dismantle the frame, he told us that he works with a shelter and was getting it to help a homeless person get back on his feet.
Another woman bought a rusty old bench and a bird bath that we had made out of an old salad bowl, a piece of wood and cast iron legs of an old sewing machine that we painted turquoise. She told me that, since her husband passed away a couple of years ago, she started taking on creative restoration projects. Being creative and working with her hands keeps her busy and makes her happy.
A couple came in with a huge trailer cart attached to their vehicle. They drove all the way from Sonoma County. They took our sofas, microwave, oven, and various other items throughout the house. Perhaps our stuff will help them furnish a new home. Maybe they were getting it for somebody affected by the Napa fires. Who knows.
A couple with a young kid picked up our kitchen table and chairs for less than $20. We’d carved pumpkins, painted, written songs, and had countless cups of coffee at this little table. Now it was theirs.
A friend of mine bought a good number of our plants and handmade planter boxes and pots that once adorned our yard. George and I had spent so many fun afternoons making those planter boxes, painting them, then filling them up with premium soil and carefully chosen plants. It was time for them to brighten another life now.
Another friend scored two of our handmade console tables. One was our entryway console table that George had made from an oblong-shaped walnut slab. I loved it. The other had a live edge maple top with Honduras mahogany legs, made using Japanese woodworking techniques. It has featured in some of our WineWednesday videos and has always been one of my favorites. Knowing that they will be welcomed and appreciated in a friend’s home is hard to put a price tag on.
It was hard at the beginning. The couch where we had our first jam, the kitchen where we fell in love, our studio where we wrote and recorded many of our songs, the garden art that George had made by hand, the furniture we had made together in the workshop, the vegetable garden we had created last summer, the side patio George had put in a few months ago, the cute porch swing. It was a lot to say goodbye to, but goodbye is not the end.
Now a new family will be making new memories in this home. A homeless man has a new bed. A creative soul has a few new projects to keep her busy. A man in Utah finally got his SawStop. Our friends and family have planters, tools, music gear, furniture, books, and other cool stuff to enjoy. One mover got a few instruments for his daughter while his pal scored a nice TV set. And we are left with just enough: lots of happiness and a newfound freedom.
For us, the most important thing is that we have each other. Everything else is just stuff our memories are made of. How many things do we buy, enjoy for a while, then eventually forget all about? Instead of letting these things collect dust in a closet, why not let them bring a little joy in another household? Why not keep on passing the gift?