My wife does not do well with clutter. She finds having a lot of possessions quite anxiety provoking. It applies to clothes, furniture, appliances, even tableware. It is fascinating to watch her try to unclutter. My kids and I are quite the opposite, so her uncluttering usually occurs when no one else is home. Everyday, as I come home from work, I pray that the couch is still in the living room.
She spends an inordinate amount of time going through her belongings, and with much delight, fills boxes and bags with the items she longer needs. She has parted ways with small appliances as well. We no longer own a toaster. She believes that bread can be toasted in the oven, so, the toaster is gone. She has decimated her once spectacular collection of canisters. She says that if she is not using it, then she doesn’t need it. And if she doesn’t need it, she shouldn’t have it.
There have been a few attempts at minimalizing my possessions. “Get away from my stuff!”, I tell her, as she looks at my drawer full of t shirts.
“What is INK FLY?’, she asks, holding up a shirt for me to see.
“Just put it back.” But she goes on and on about how much easier it is to live with less, and how simplifying her life has made her so very happy. I remind her that I don’t do well with simple. I thrive in chaos and emotional crisis. She thinks I am just being difficult.
She had been after me to get rid of the wall unit we have had for 15 years or so. It still works, holds the stereo, the television, and other assorted items we have accumulated over the years. The plan was to mount the television on the wall, eliminate most of the other stuff on the unit, and using a hammer, destroy the wall unit, and take it out to the trash. I have discovered that her passion for minimalism has brought out a very aggressive and violent side of her. She has removed most of our table ware and cutlery, leaving just enough so that each person living in the house, has 1 full set. She says that is all anyone needs. If it is dirty, you need to wash it.
She reads me items from the minimalist groups and forums she subscribes to in an attempt to convert me. She has told me of a couple who sold everything they own, and travel around in a Volkswagon van, living with very little. I am still trying to figure out where in the Volkswagon van did they put the toilet, and the shower? It seems that they stop at gas stations to use a bathroom, and bathe in rivers. Well, I will not be travelling the world in a Volkswagon van. Ever.
I have always believed that I am a simple man. I don’t want much, and I really don’t need much. I have never had any desire to live in a mansion, or travel the world. I do however, want my stuff. She would like it if I thinned out my clothing. “Just donate the things you haven’t worn in a long time, and the things that don’t fit”, she says.
“I wear it all”, I tell her. She will begin to pull thingd from my closet, “I haven’t seen you wear this since we moved here”, she says, as if to prove a point.
“I’m saving it for a special occasion”, I say.
The battle ensues, but there will be no peaceful outcome, short of complete and total surrender to this wide eyed, minimalist enthusiast. I have tried to talk with her about it. Tried to negotiate a settlement we could both live with. It took some time, and at least 5 years off of my life, but we have agreed. The wall unit will go, the bed will stay on the box spring and frame. We will never move into a Volkswagon van, and I will go through my stuff and try to downsize,
She sits on the edge of the bed, watching me go through my clothes. She says nothing, but I can hear her fidgeting as I slowly, and purposefully begin the uncluttering of my life. It is difficult, but I give up my Ink Fly t-shirt, remembering that it once read Pink Floyd. As the pile continues to grow, she jumps up, gives me a hug, and reminds me that next week we will start minimizing the kitchen. If she even looks at my waffle maker, there will be hell to pay.