I joke that our home resembles a sausage - stuffed full of items like one of those New York apartments you see in Woody Allen movies.
I am unpacking again - our 3rd move in 4.5 years - and with each move we get rid of an enormous amount of stuff. And, if, after three moves and three purges we still have too much stuff, that gives you an idea of how much crap we started out with. When we left California I reduced our belongings by 1/3. The men who estimated what size container we would need were impressed. The second move from Italy to Sweden, we got rid of a bunch more stuff. The third move within Sweden resulted in more stuff to be donated. We took 6 large Hefty garbage bags full of clothes to Poland and left it with the relatives there, and yet, I still have 2 boxes of clothes that the kids have outgrown. "Hello. My name is Shelley and I am an American consumer. I have not consumed anything frivolous in 90 days."
I blame my consumerism on being raised in a culture that is constantly telling you that in order to be younger looking, happier, thinner, happier, more stylish, happier, better, happier, you need this particular stuff! The marketing campaigns start bombarding you when you are a toddler and continue throughout your life. Come on Americans, admit it - how many of you feel like you have to redo your entire house every time the new Restoration Hardware catalog comes out?
Living in Europe I am free from marketing for the most part. One, I don't speak the language well enough to understand the ads. And two, there simply are not as many ads. Living in smaller spaces has also made me realize that I don't need all the stuff to be happy. In fact I am happier not having to worry about it. So, I am here and now vowing that when we eventually move back to the USA I am going to disavow the consumerism and remember that I'd rather spend my money on trips with my family and making memories than buying more crap at Target that I don't need.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned, we currently still have too much stuff. And the things that we have left are memories from our travels. Photographs, drawings, ceramics, all reminding me of that magical trip to Portugal or our family exploration of Italy, thus, I am hard pressed to get rid of the remaining stuff.
So, I am taking a page from the Europeans who seem to value time over stuff. Rather than get rid of the items we have left I've decided that we need a second house. You see it is conceivable that one or both of our children may well end up making their lives in Europe. Logic leads me to the conclusion that we need a place that we can continue to gather and make memories if we have scattered to different continents. Admittedly, I may have a ways to go on breaking my American consumer habits, however, at least this way when I consume I'm going to consume a place for more memory making. I envision grandchildren running around my garden in the south of France. A girl can dream.