Embracing a Year of Change (Or Faking it Until I Make it?)
Bunny Manor was the perfect house to raise our family, but these little bunnies hopped away years ago. It’s time for a change.
It’s an ugly brown wood loveseat. It doesn’t fit my style, even though, to be honest, I’m not even sure I have a style. It’s not comfortable to sit on, and although it’s called a loveseat, it would have to be two pretty skinny lovers to be able to fit. It’s not attractive. If I’m completely honest, it’s ugly. It’s been taking up valuable real estate in my house for eleven years, yet I can’t seem to say goodbye to it. I have a love/hate relationship with this loveseat that is way too complicated to be assigned to a piece of furniture. I no longer make resolutions, but I’ve decided to call 2022 “my year of change,” and one of the changes will involve the ugly brown loveseat.
When my sisters and I gathered at our childhood home to decide what to do with all of our parents’ possessions, things went smoother than expected. We agreed on everything, taking turns choosing items until we came to the ugly loveseat. No one wanted it, but no one wanted a stranger to buy it at the estate sale. We all kind of hated it, but we all kind of loved it. This loveseat belonged to my parents and had been a permanent fixture at my childhood home for my entire life. It predated my oldest sister. My parents bought the loveseat at the beginning of their marriage, which means when they died, they had owned this loveseat for almost 60 years!
Just looking at it brought memories of our mother and all the times she had recovered it, the times we had sat on it in the Victorian-themed living room. Our mom loved ornate, heavy, dark furniture and floral prints. None of us shared that love, but we loved our mom. We were at a standoff, and I guess you could say I drew the short straw and the ugly loveseat went home with me. And there it sat unappreciated, ignored except for occasional glances of disdain accompanied by a twinge of nostalgic yearning. I asked my adult daughters if they might want it, knowing what their answers would be. I contemplated painting it. I looked at various fabrics trying to imagine how I might transform the loveseat. I texted pictures of it to my nieces, hoping they might want a piece of family history. I received polite but firm nos. I even went out on a limb and asked my nephews and their wives. No deal.
There it has sat for eleven years. The loveseat has become symbolic of all the things in my life that need change, yet I cling to the comfort of the familiar. 2022 is my year of change, and I’m going to say a lot of sad goodbyes to inanimate objects I should never have attached emotional value to. We are finally downsizing. I wrote about decluttering and downsizing two years ago, but then the pandemic put a pause in our plans. We sequestered ourselves safely in our “too big for two people” house. We could have/should have spent this time decluttering, but instead, I buried my head in books, staying in denial about the boxes of junk in the attic. So here I am back at it, being a little more ruthless in throwing away and donating items. I have driven so many trunk loads of “stuff” to various charities, trying to spread the wealth of the detritus of my life. I think the people who run the drop-off sites know my car and are beginning to dread my arrival. Some days I feel like my attempts are not unlike trying to empty the ocean one cup at a time. Have I even made a dent yet?
My poor daughters are suffering another trauma of being the children of divorce. Their father and I have chosen the same time to downsize, and they are caught in the middle. They looked through boxes of things at his house, taking very little. I expect they will feel the same about the junk at my house. Like many people in their generation, both of my daughters are attempting to live minimalistic lives. I respect that. How many stuffed animals or high school spirit shirts do women in their mid-thirties really need? My daughters have their priorities straight and help me by texting me frequently with inspiring words of encouragement, occasionally showing up to talk me through letting go of things. How did these two get so wise?
This isn’t the first article written about everything my generation has accumulated that no one wants. Times have changed. My first marriage took place when couples registered for delicate china and crystal. We had a big traditional Greek Orthodox wedding, so along with the china and crystal came many beautiful silver serving pieces. I cherished all of it at the time, but it no longer fits my lifestyle, and my daughters certainly have no use for it. All of my once treasured china will eventually be sold at an estate sale for ten cents a plate. For now, I’ve pawned it all off on my ex-husband. I had custody for 30 years, and it’s his turn now. I am trying very hard to detach from material items. My daughter keeps telling me I can keep the memories without keeping the things. For the items that are especially difficult to give away, she suggests taking pictures. She’s so smart!
Leaving our big house (Bunny Manor), where we raised our kids and established many wonderful memories, is not easy. Bunny Manor was the right house for the season of raising children. It was the host to many slumber parties with big groups of teenage girls who never actually slumbered and Sunday family dinners with grandparents and cousins squeezed around the big round table. There were hours spent at the kitchen table working on science projects and going over complicated algebra problems. Especially memorable were the long talks at bedtime with my daughters. When I take off the rose-colored glasses, I realize there were also rough times. The girls frequently fought over bathroom space. As they became teenagers, I struggled to figure out my parenting boundaries, often erring on the too strict side. I’m pretty sure my kids will agree we had a good life, but no life is perfect, despite what social media might lead you to believe. I’ll pack those memories, weeding out a few I want to leave behind, right along with the dishes and linens. It’s time to move to the next season of life, both figuratively and literally.
Change is scary. It’s tempting to hold on to what we know and love, but if we do that, we may be cheating ourselves out of a home and a simpler lifestyle that is just right for the next season. I’m going to embrace all the changes coming in the next phase of my life, or at least I’m going to muddle through faking it until I make it. I’ll take the important things along on the next part of my journey, my husband, my cat, and all the great memories we made in Bunny Manor. But I promise I will be leaving that ugly old brown loveseat where it belongs, in the past! That is, unless one of my daughters has a sudden change of heart?
It’s time to leave this piece of the past in the past! Sorry, Mom!
We can’t be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea. – C. JoyBell C.