At a recent social occasion, a young friend shared that she simply can’t stand the word “beige”. She said it’s so “You know, beige!” I agreed that “beige” is indeed a boring, generic word when one could qualify with something more colorful like “pale nutmeg”, “1/2 whole wheat,” or “overcooked chicken thigh”.
Anyway, I got to musing about words that I “can’t stand” (I say that instead of “hate” which my parents taught me never to say except when referring to major issues like war, disease, race discrimination, etc). I came up with two words, and both of them begin with a preposition: “update” and “downsize”.
To me “update” is an unimaginative, harshly pedestrian word smacking of anything that would threaten to ratchet me from the 19th and 20th centuries where I felt at home, to the 21st where I live—although that hasn’t yet made a dent in me and I hope it never will! And I knee-jerk even more, over that intimidating verb—”downsize”!
Of course some downsizing is essential when it means moving from a large home to a smaller one (we’ve done that three times in thirty-two years—paring a bit here and there without diminishing our penchant for acquiring antiques and junk). Lack of space is a valid reason to delete some of one’s stuff, to make more space for collecting at the other end! Also, it makes sense to give our children and grandchildren some family heirlooms and perhaps some silver, china, or crystal—so we can see them enjoying these items before we depart.
Obviously, when “things” or “clutter” become disorganized in a home—or when they prove burdensome and inordinately time consuming—then it’s good to take drastic action. Also, we need to run an inventory if things are overly important in our lives. We are never to idolize stuff!
While appreciating these disclaimers, I pray Joe and I will never need to change our modus operandi! I’ll continue to shout from the highest rooftop and scream from the highest mountain, “Bring on the stuff”. You can downsize me when you lower me into my grave, because by then I’ll have left this earth for the best Home of all!
The currently popular fad of downsizing may be partly due to that horrible contemporary lack of commodious attics in which to stash the extra detritus of bygone years. What a loss to the human race and quality of living—although heating Victorian houses might not appeal to many of us.
But I think the contemporary downsizing syndrome implies more than the lack of an attic. Some late 20th century sterility has crept into the American pop mentality. And by now, nearly thirteen years after the turn of the century (which to me will always mean from 1899 to 1900) our culture has degenerated full-throttle into the crazed concept that everything has to: 1) move fast, 2) be bio-degradable, and 3) be “easy” to maintain.
Those souls who simply cannot live with dust, rust, stains, or tatter, will definitely choose advancing into the 21st century—perhaps in tandem with some who can’t sit still or walk slowly, but rather need to be metaphorically catapulting from coast to coast with a brief lay-over in Minneapolis or Chicago.
Fortunately, however, there are others who will always resist the latest trend. We are those intrepid and dauntless anachronisms—suspended in time, while happily preserving the artifacts of other eras. We anachronisms don’t care two hoots when our stuff gets dusty—although, because I enjoy the process, I actually dust (most) everything twice (or maybe three times) per year whether I need to or not!
I love rust, the stains of antiquity (barring spilled food and dog messes), and tatters. I do draw the line at mold, but only because I have a chronic sinus infection and asthma.
So while some may say (often a bit sanctimoniously, as if there were a ”spiritual” aspect to downsizing) “I don’t do antiques shops and garage sales anymore”, my husband and I still hit them frequently whatever the season—antiques shops in winter and garage sales in summer. (Remember, we live in Wisconsin. That should explain the seasonal element.)
When we lived up north a woman came into our home, looked around, and made a classically caustic comment (get that alliteration—it’s the poet in me). She said, “How can you do this to your children?”
Well, at least one granddaughter is very glad we are “doing this”! Once again on this blog I quote our brilliant granddaughter, Alicia, who maintains: “I know I can’t take anything with me. That’s why I’m enjoying it all now!”
Above you will see a view in our current home which is much smaller than past digs, yet equally packed with fun and funky stuff—along with whatever heirlooms, china, silver, and crystal we haven’t yet given away.
When it comes to plain old wonderful junk, and of course home grown art, the population is ever-increasing! Our gardens and walls will vouch for that! We are always “upsizing”! I didn’t say “upscaling”—that would be stressful and no fun at all. Just upsizing!
Our rooms may diminish in numbers, but never in that overflowing variety of ambience loved by that unique breed of folks known as collectors!
Margaret L. Been, ©2012—yet fondly preserving slower years!