August 11th, 2017

Goodbye, in Stages

It is becoming obvious to me that I know very little about the process of moving from one home to another.

For several weeks, I’ve been packing boxes, giving things away, and throwing things out. I’ve interviewed movers. I’ve found out about having machines and vehicles moved. After all that, I keep learning new things.

Today the movers told me the job takes three days. They pack on one day, shove things into the truck the next, and move on the third. I thought it was a one-day move, which was actually fairly stupid on my part. The drive alone will take them five hours.

If they have a whole day to pack, it takes a load off my mind. It means I don’t have to be prepared perfectly. If there are things I can’t deal with, I can turn them over to the movers.

The Internet issue is still alive. I found an outfit which will sell me a wireless data plan which is not limited to 32 GB, but they haven’t gotten back to me with a price yet. I feel like anything under a hundred bucks is acceptable. The Internet is important. If anything were to happen to my dad, I would kill the TV service immediately, but the Internet is essential.

Throwing out my dad’s ruined 1980’s furniture has been like lancing a giant boil. He paid way too much for it (i.e. more than nothing), so he has always been convinced that it’s fine furniture. The other day I put his sawdust credenza out for the Salvation Army, and he insisted it was a quality piece. Here are some interesting facts about it.

1. The back is hardboard, which is the hard cardboard clipboards are made from.

2. The body is made from sawdust mixed with glue and pressed into flat shapes.

3. Drawers from fine pieces of furniture are held together with dovetails. The credenza’s drawers are held together (barely) by staples.

4. When you bump into the credenza, sometimes sawdust falls out.

I have the 1981 receipt for the credenza. It cost $1000, and it was a floor model. That explains the strange dents and scratches. This is what happens when a divorced man finds a new girl. He buys things no one should ever buy.

Right now, if the right person (someone whose name ends in “Z”) wanted that thing, a fair price would be $150. New. It’s one step up from the furniture they sell at Office Depot, only less durable and more offensive.

Here’s something to think about. His entertainment center is a nice set from Ethan Allen. It’s solid wood. It has three cabinets, total. It’s around nine years old, and he paid $1010. When he bought it, it was new. That was about 30 years (of inflation) after he paid about the same amount for the sawdust credenza. And the Ethan Allen set was not on sale. This gives you an idea of the magnitude of the swindle.

The credenza disaster took place during the Cocaine cowboy years. People in Miami had even less taste than they do now, which is saying a lot. A lot of fake Bauhaus houses went up during that time. They look like tiny versions of cheap concrete high schools. They were filled with glass tables and bright yellow couches. People kept live tigers on their patios, and when they thought of timeless elegance, they thought of orange double knit. It was pretty gross. That’s where the credenza was spawned.

It’s gone with a capital “G” now. I have no idea why the Salvation Army accepted it. I fully expected a rejection note and maybe a bag of dog crap on the porch.

I’m very glad he didn’t see me and my friend Travis dumping his 1987 27″ TV by the curb. I think he paid $1500 for it. In its time, it was the fanciest TV you could find at Circuit City. As far as I know, it was still working when we gave it the heave-ho. You can’t make an older person understand that a 70-pound, 27″ TV that can’t receive a digital signal is no good. As Travis said, even pawn shops won’t take them.

I thought that TV was great when it was new, but then I was also pretty excited about the 512K Macintosh that only ran when it had a floppy disk inserted. What a machine. It had an external floppy drive, and if you wanted to replace the drive, it only cost $385.

I digress.

This weekend, I plan to take my mother’s mink to the Salvation Army. I saw a website that said old minks could bring as much as $400, so I was hot to put it on consignment, but then I found out it was not the $400 kind of old mink. It’s a stole from around 1970, and they sell on Ebay, all day long, for under $30. Makes me wonder why women don’t snap them up. They still look good. I guess they don’t want filthy hippies throwing red paint on them and forcing them to draw their pistols.

If my sister ever hears that I gave away the mink, the ensuing explosion will probably show up on seismographs. Last time she mentioned it, she thought it was worth a bundle. If we were still communicating, I would offer it to her, but when you commit felonies, get yourself ejected from rehab (again), and fall into society’s cracks, you pretty much give up the right to be informed about the disposition of your mom’s worthless old furs. I won’t be giving it to her, so it won’t be going to the dump or the pawnbroker like my mom’s gold Rolex or my grandmother’s wedding ring.

I was going to keep the Mom-era knickknacks from my dad’s house, but the more I think about it, the more I think I should cut a lot of them loose. Some are not very tasteful, others won’t fit in a traditional Southern house, and the rest are reminders of a dysfunctional past. I would throw out the bed my mom and dad bought after they got married, because it was my bed during many unpleasant years, but my dad is still attached to it.

Maybe he’ll forget about it, and if that happens, it’s gone.

The way you look at an heirloom depends a lot on the way you were raised. If your childhood was happy, heirlooms are treasured souvenirs of a golden age. If your childhood was like mine, you will want to burn most things that are over ten years old. The very thought of burning them is refreshing and redolent with hope.

I’m torn about discarding my sister’s college diploma. Obviously, she doesn’t care about it, or it wouldn’t have been lodged in my dad’s house since 1981. She didn’t care about her law school diploma or oath of attorney, which I set out for her when she moved out of the house she ruined. Those went to the dump. She left them where I put them.

When you have an abusive relative or former lover or whatever, keeping objects on which they have claims is like giving them permanent tickets to your presence. That diploma is like a beacon that gives out a homing signal that attracts swarms of stinging insects.

I believe in shedding my skin. Some bits of the past should be preserved, and others should be cleared away, fast. I gave away my mother’s clothes the week she died, as soon as I could get them in the car. If anything happens to my dad, his clothes and every troublesome possession he has will be gone in a week. All the things I wish he would get rid of…out. A house is not a mausoleum. The dead should be remembered and honored to some extent, but keeping things the way they left them is sick and evil. The dead move on, and we should, too. They’re not in heaven, burying their faces in our old jackets and sweaters.

I’ve rambled enough. Time to set about twenty pounds of my own clothes apart for donation. Goodbye, 1988. That jean jacket never came in handy the way I thought it would.

7 Responses to “Logistics”

  1. Ed Bonderenka Says:

    It’s harder to cut stuff loose and it’s your wife’s.
    And her parents gave it to her.

  2. Stephen McAteer Says:

    Good post.

  3. Chris Says:

    Your comments about heirlooms is one that hits pretty close for me. My Dad passed away last fall when 40 years of alcohol abuse finally caught up with him. He’d been on and off the streets, and my aunt finally got him in a VA program to deal with his issues. He’d managed to get an apartment in the same town as the hospital, and worked mostly temp jobs, so he didn’t have much when he died.

    Fortunately, he kept meticulous records, and because he didn’t have many possessions, taking care of his affairs was blessedly easy. However, I’ve found that getting rid of some of his old records–pay stubs, his food stamp paperwork, etc–has been harder than I expected. Part of it is my general tendency to hold on to records for 3-5 years in case something comes up, but I’ll admit that, because we weren’t that close, every record is a piece of his life that I wasn’t really aware of, and they’ve provided a pretty sizeable window into the emotional and spiritual pain that he was feeling.

    Eventually, I know I’ll get rid of most of his stuff, save for a few items like his childhood report cards and veteran-related documents, and I’ll always have the flag from his funeral. But getting to that step has been a challenge, and I have a lot of respect for people who can let those things go relatively quickly.

  4. Steve H. Says:

    Sorry to hear about your dad’s problems. I have a young friend who is going through something similar. His dad tried to be a good father early on, but now he is bitter and disabled, and he is resisting efforts to help. He doesn’t drink, but he has MS, and last week my friend’s big victory was getting him to wear diapers.

    As for me, I don’t like having certain old things around. They remind me of our complete failure as a family. Also, when you hold onto inappropriate things, such as a person’s clothes, you freeze yourself in time. It prevents you from going forward and enjoying life.

  5. lauraw Says:

    I did the Marie Kondo decluttering system thing last Summer and it was glorious.

    Never did get to evacuate many of my husband’s useless dustcatchers (glass figurine mementos from the anniversary party of a place you used to work for? Really?).

    But the massive amount of crap I was able to turn into tax deductions was wonderful anyway. And there is so much more order and working room in the house.

    I wish you much happiness in starting over, and having a sensibly (sparsely) populated home and workshop.

  6. Tom Says:

    I have a shadow box with my father’s military medals.
    Also have his woodworking tools.
    Everything else was passed on to my nephews who will get the remainder when I pass.
    I’ve been dumping my stuff so that family won’t have to go through this.
    Also makes keeping the house clean a lot easier.
    I hope you will enjoy have the new location and workshop.

  7. Chris Says:

    “Also, when you hold onto inappropriate things, such as a person’s clothes, you freeze yourself in time. It prevents you from going forward and enjoying life.”

    It’s interesting that you mention this, because my aunt wanted a bunch of his clothes, like a leather jacket and some sweatshirts. She has some severe emotional problems of her own (seriously, my Dad’s family is pretty messed up, and it’s clear that God has been looking out for me by limiting my contact with them over the decades), and holding on to his clothes is certainly indicative of how hard it is for her to let things go.