Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Life Lesson #3: Making Room for More

This post isn't about dogs; in fact, you'll be glad no canines were involved.

Hurricane Irene rolled into New Jersey late Saturday night. We worried about downed trees on our quaint little town's tree-lined streets. We worried about not having electricity. We worried about trains being cancelled and roads being closed.

What we didn't worry about was a basement filled with a foot and a half of water. And that's exactly what we got. We were awoken at 5am by a horrible crashing sounds in the basement. We ran down to find 3-4 inches of water. The power had failed and, accordingly, so did our sump pump. We spent the next hour grabbing the essentials like contestants on Supermarket Sweep—important documents, electronics, scrapbooks. We grabbed and stacked as fast as we could, but the water kept rising. So then we started bailing water. With two small buckets, we ran up and down the stairs dumping the water into our bathtub. It was useless, but you can't helplessly stand by and watch all of your belongings go under.

The water won 16 inches to 0. That was yesterday.

Today was clean-up day. I hope you never have to wade through water with your life-long memories floating by—photos, books, each carrying a specific significance. (But maybe you have and you can relate.) Sure, we lost things of actual monetary value, such as big ticket appliances, and that hurts the wallet. But it was the little things that hit me hardest. They fall into a few categories...
  • Things that survive despite the odds (and thank goodness they do):
Our extra wedding invitations were sealed in a dinky envelope. Finding some of these intact made my day.
  • Things that deserve to be destroyed but are in perfect shape:
Why do I have these Pogs that went out of style 20 years ago? Even if they were in style, they didn't deserve to survive when my precious belongings did not. I hope they have survival's guilt.

  • Things of $0 monetary value that are irreplaceable:
  • This Golden Book wouldn't sell for $0.01 on ebay, even if it were dry. Sure, I could go out and buy a copy of this same title and it would stir the memories of reading with my mom as a child, but my signature (4-year-old style) can't be replaced.
  • Things you never knew you had and are glad you found (even if it took a massive flood):
Photos of my husband as a child

  • Things of emotional importance you should have let go years ago:
This was my favorite doll as kid, but she's been musty and mildew-y for years. Also included in this category are just anything to do with exes.
  • Things that remain as connections to loved ones who have passed:
  • As a kid, I took this suitcase to grandma's house for sleepovers. It's soaked through and through, but you better bet I'll be drying it with a hair dryer all day tomorrow. Letting go of this means letting go of her memory.
Sure, we've held on to some things in hopes of preserving them. But we've thrown out 60+ bags of "trash"—all things that once held significance to us. It makes me terribly sad, but it also makes us feel like we're starting fresh, especially as we begin our lives as a married couple. We're making more room in our home and in our lives for something more. What that "more" is, we're not sure, but you can bet a dog of our own and many foster dogs will be part of it. 


  1. I'm sorry again. As someone who is extremely sentimental, and (despite my clutter-free craziness), saves everything with the slightest memory, I can only imagine! But way to look at it in a basement half-full (or now empty and ready to be filled with new memories) kind of a way!
    P.S. that suitcase is the cutest!
    P.P.S. I'm amazed in all of this, and a wedding, honeymoon, work, etc. you still manage to find time to update your blog, and I still don't!

  2. Thanks, Natalie. It's merely my coping mechanism; it's cathartic.

  3. aw... super sweet post.

    AND POGS! Sweet!

    when my husband and i moved into our first place, we used the basement as storage for all our sentimental stuff our parents labeled "TAKE OR I THROW AWAY!".

    So then came the first basement flooding and I lost so much... so so much. I was devastated.

    But I think we realized that stuff is just stuff, and now we're starting our lives together making new memories to preserve.

    And when our basement floods, we are now prepared with things up on concrete blocks and in plastic bins. Water is scary destructive!

    Enjoy making new sentimental memories :)

  4. The Pogs are dry and free to a good home, Jen. :)

  5. It is so hard to part with emotion-laden stuff. It provides documentation of memories...but that's another reason I love having a blog, to document without the clutter!

    Sorry about the losses, but you have a great attitude about it :)

  6. Great point, Kirsten! This blog is waterproof!! :)

  7. Kim,
    I'm so sorry you lost some precious belongings and hope the basement dries out soon. And most definitely that you get a dog of your own.