2 Oct
1 October 2016. What to do with our stuff? Uncle Sam is not paying for this move, although he graciously shipped what little we declared precious-to-us upon our retirement. We did not want to pay for 18 months of storage for things easily replaced so we only shipped only 1100 pounds back to Portland. (For reference, when we moved to Roma, we shipped 11,000 pounds of household goods.) We have no furniture in storage and few household goods. Stored for our return are artwork, Ric’s collectible trains, some family crystal and other memorabilia, a few books. Not much more. We sold a lot of stuff when we moved from the embassy apartment to our own place on Via Ruggero Fauro.
My guardaroba or wardrobe. Much better than a closet.

My guardaroba or wardrobe. Much better than a closet.

We took a few pieces of furniture to our mostly-furnished retirement rental, but nothing worth shipping across the ocean. As most American homes come with closets, our guardarobe (which we LOVE) are unnecessary.
We had hoped to keep a few more things and ship them back, especially two 8’x10′ carpets we love. However, shipping is a very expensive prospect. After receiving a bid on sending back the rugs, clothes, pots and pans, and this-and-that, we decided it would be far more fun to spend that much cash on buying new than sending old. It was a crazy amount of money.
This is the first pass at clearing out. The JNRC will receive it all.

This is the first pass at clearing out. The JNRC will receive it all.

Our landlady will take some furnishings that add value to the apartment for the next tenants (our European T.V., the guardarobe, a desk, lamps). Other items will go to the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center. They will take all the men’s clothes and shoes we can gather, my old and heavy sewing machine, some kitchen gear. Our Peruvian housekeeper is taking women’s clothes which her family in Peru is anxious to have. (This is a thing. Our doctor told us his mother and sister give their clothes to their foreign-born housekeepers, too.) What these sources won’t take will go to Roman recycling: the street, where the pickers will claim it in about 65 seconds. (See Changing House from May 2015.)
We are shipping things one 10-kilo box at a time through Mailboxes, Etc. The cost will be a fraction of that for shipping what we had hoped to send through the transfer company.
We will ship only clothes we love and that fit. We are not packing I-might-use-these tee-shirts or if-I-lose-five-pounds jeans. Only one pair of heels for me as I have worn heels about four times in the past 18 months. No sheets or towels (easily replaceable and pretty old anyway), no 15-year-old flatware, no toiletries except those we need for the trip home. I think Ric is down to owning three pairs of shoes instead of eight. I have a way to go on that front. Thinking about it, when we travel we pack only two pairs of shoes each, three bottoms, five-or-six tops, a couple of layering pieces, and a jacket, yet we manage for up to four weeks on the road. We don’t really need all that stuff in the wardrobe. The challenge is not getting caught up in replacing all of it. I sure could use some new pajamas, though. I haven’t bought new in about two years. I feel a Nordstrom order coming on….

13 Responses to “Stuff”

  1. ckleonard October 4, 2016 at 21:52 #

    Hi Laurel! Well, I can honestly say “I know exactly what you are going through”! I’m doing the same and can’t wait until I am in my new “little” space and am rid of all this stuff I have accumulated over the years. How is this for embarrassing? I’m finding boxes of “stuff” in my garage that have never been unpacked since I moved into this home over 31 years ago. So far, I have not found one thing that I have missed.


    • GoodDayRome October 5, 2016 at 05:08 #

      I think that is a good reason to move house every few years! Will you be in your new digs when we get back? Can’t wait to see you!!!


      • ckleonard October 5, 2016 at 18:16 #

        If all goes well, my apartment will be ready for me on 10/28 and hopefully I get moved within the next couple of weeks!. I can’t remember the date you arrive. I spent my entire life moving every few years until I landed in Portland. Yes, much better to move frequently to control ones “stuff”! Looking so forward to seeing you two soon.


  2. Jan October 2, 2016 at 18:57 #

    Sounds like a cathartic cleansing!!!!


    • GoodDayRome October 3, 2016 at 05:28 #

      It really is cathartic! We have done significant downsizing with the move from house-to-condo and condo-to-Rome, but this is really a to-the-walls cleansing.


  3. Marcia October 2, 2016 at 17:04 #

    Your lives have changed is do many ways and it seems not needing as much ‘stuff’ as AMERICANs tend to have is one of those changes…positive! I do hope you don’t replace a lot of the things. Life will be simpler and more fun to spend that money on experiences anyway. See you in a week. This is our last day in MX


    • GoodDayRome October 3, 2016 at 05:30 #

      For many years we have substituted experiences — mostly travel — for major gifts. That is a practice we will continue. But it will be nice to be able to walk into Fred Meyer and buy everything we need instead of going to three or four specialty stores. Buying something as simple as tissue paper is ridiculous in central Rome!


  4. Bill Walls October 2, 2016 at 16:40 #

    Smart move-we are still going through boxes that contain things we should have donated. Spend more time enjoying Rome and its neighborhoods.


    • GoodDayRome October 3, 2016 at 05:31 #

      I hope when we open the stuff in storage we have no regrets!


  5. Gayle Seely October 2, 2016 at 16:19 #

    Wonderful that you have figured out how to travel so light. For me this is a constant struggle. And I never seem to have the right stuff – never – and wonder what it is about my thinking that makes me pack stuff I never wear on the trip, while at the same time I am freezing or cooking and have to buy a fleece or sandals.

    Perhaps paying for extra bags on the trip home would work out to be economical. As in taking 3 each instead of 2, plus a carry-on.

    On the other hand, I have read that you are not truly free until you are able to give up most of your ‘stuff’. Free from what, I am not sure, and I have never really done this, although I pared down quite a bit to more to Oregon decades ago. So it is kind of a blessing, maybe, for you to begin with gathering NEW stuff, for a brand new chapter of your life. Nice.


    • GoodDayRome October 3, 2016 at 05:32 #

      Oh Gayle, next time you go on a European trip I will come over and help you pack! 21-inch rollaboard and a day pack is all you need!


  6. dalluva October 2, 2016 at 15:07 #

    Ciao Laurel — how much is it costing you to ship through MBE? My wine shipper service does it for about €3 to €5 per kilogram depending upon weight (heavier is cheaper), plus they can arrange pickup. That’s air shipping via FedEx. It can be a bit cheaper if you go “economy air shipping.”

    Let me know if I can help by doing an introduction. They’re good people.



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