Our purge was so extensive it would be easier to list the things we’ve kept than what we sold. Kid’s baby pictures, Jen’s wedding dress, a Tibetan prayer wheel, my dad’s dress blues. Two rugs from our time in Istanbul, my first Father’s Day card, a half dozen pieces of construction paper with hand tracings turned thanksgiving-turkeys. Keepsakes and souvenirs. These are the things we still own. Things that touch our hearts.
The rule was, if it’s sold at a big box store, it didn’t make the cut. All the dishes, all the appliances, the beds, the bedding, we even sold the Christmas tree. Easily 90% of our things all gone in a 3-day estate sale.
It’s an odd experience when every drawer and cabinet in your house is turned out, tagged and priced. A shock to see your consumer footprint laid out before you. There, piled on tables, is the physical evidence of your work’s effort, proof of your passage, like looking back at your tracks in the snow. All those times the alarm went off at 5am and I drove to the hospital in the dark to work until it was dark again, missing completely the passage of that day’s sun. Hours upon hours upon hours spent working in the OR, chunks of my life traded, for mounds of the latest and greatest plastic stuff. And for three days I watched the fruits of these labors being pawed through and bartered over by retirees and bargain hunters. All those hours worked and sacrificed and there, on day three of our sale, a sign that read 50% off everything.
It was an existential kick in the gut, but one necessary to go from a 2700 square foot house down to a 49 square foot Pod. Three months of frenzied downsizing and packing on Jen’s part made it happen. It started Memorial day weekend. We knew when we returned from Bhutan in April that we were going to blow it all up, but it was on Memorial Day that we listed the house. The official start of our great escape.
As soon as the sign went up we had to start divulging our ridiculous plan. “I’m quitting the hospital so we can travel the world, have adventures and homeschool the kids”. This sounded a lot better in my head than out loud, at school pick-up or swim practice. Curious and disbelieving looks followed by a barrage of questions for which we had few answers.
My mom cried when she first heard of the plan. My mother-in-law didn’t mention it for three days after being told. Its an unconventional plan for sure, but there are those close friends who understood immediately. Friends whose response was “it’s about time”. Friends who housed us those last three weeks in Texas. The Flannegans, and Pittfields, the Dares and Dubes. Friends who support us, who get us, and without whom our present dream would not be coming true. After the shock wore off even the grandparents came on board.
So what does that dream look like? What is the new shape of our mindfully curated life? At present, it means being completely debt free (suck on that Dave Ramsey) and a four month anesthesia contract at Yale. It means enjoying what is enough instead of always working for more. It is spending the fall exploring the Northeast with our kids. It’s trips to NYC and Montreal. It’s weekends off and nights at home. It is time and the freedom to spend it how we choose.
Carl Sandburg said “Time is the coin of your life. You spend it. Do not allow others to spend it for you”. Our great escape of means we’re once again holding the purse.