FRANK CARRANO: Downsizing — when a thing is more than a thing

Frank Carrano

Deciding to move is only the beginning of the process of changing your life. The really difficult part is what to do with the accumulated things that essentially represent your life in that place you called home.

Those things are a reflection of the evolution that characterized your changing life style and needs. Every single thing that you bought, or acquired from others has a tale to tell.

My first attempt at assessing how much stuff we had accumulated was a trip to our basement. For so long, it had become a holding pen for things that we didn’t now need but hadn’t really taken the time to decide how disposable they really were. Looking over that vast expanse seemed to be a trip through all the years of our lives in the house.

The advice that I received from well-meaning friends was to think about how much I really want or need or love the item before identifying it as a keeper or a toss. I try to remember all the circumstances associated with the acquisition of each item. Mostly happy and positive thoughts emerged as I processed the many things.

When my sons Matt and Frank came to help me, it really was a voyage of remembrance for them as well. A time to recollect the memories that they had attached to some of the items. I must admit that I was really moved to see how much certain things meant to them.

In some cases, they had already agreed on the disposition of things over which they shared fond memories. Our traditional Christmas decorations, for instance, were divided between them within some kind of algorithm that they had created.

I was also so pleased to see that so many of the things that Angela and I saved were important for them as well. They represented happy times as children or students or young adults.

Matt, in his most professional scientific demeanor, managed to look through the contents of both file cabinets that contained school related materials. Frank, in a more emotional frame of mind, reflected on his things and the value they had as remembrances of happy times at home or at school. They even took some of the decorative items that were scattered throughout the house, on walls and tabletops. I was really pleased to see that they now wanted these things in their own homes.

I know that I’m probably packing too much stuff - not being as ruthless as I was advised to be. Actually, I don’t mind if I end up storing some stuff in my new basement. It will be more important for me to keep my connection to those items as it is to look out over a lean basement.

So what does it all mean? How do we come to associate certain things with periods in our lives?

Sometimes an item is more than it is. Sometimes objects have an intrinsic value as artifacts of the history of our lives as a family. Gifts from family and friends, projects that Angela had completed over the course of her handcraft journey. Knitting, quilting, cross stitching, embroidering, sewing and ceramics. Lovely mementoes of our trips.

I knew that I had to reduce my collection of pottery, and that task has proven to be quite difficult and even onerous. I can think of a reason to keep each one, and I kind of like the way they all look together.

My life’s journey continues to meander to places that are foreign to me. Places to which I hadn’t really intended to travel. I’m trying to keep a good humor as I go about these unintended journeys of the heart and mind. It’s life, after all.

Connecticut Media Group