top of page
  • jdettmann

Should It Stay Or Should It Go?

In a shocking turn of events, I have not written any more of my novel since last week. My idea now seems very slight and unimportant in light of world events. Instead, we have moved back into our house after the renovation, and I have spent most of my time dealing with an existential crisis that has taken root in the rich compost of all the stuff in our house.

I need to cull our belongings. This is a truth universally known. But I am also a sentimentalist at heart. I know how you’re meant to get rid of things: ask do I wear them/use them/need them? Could someone else benefit from them? One or two yeses and out they go. Well, that’s all fine in theory. But in reality? There are more questions than that.

Here are but two of the quandaries I have been wrestling with. Multiply this by a few hundred and you have an idea of why I am not achieving a lot.

Object: box containing three plastic horses, two riders, one convertible car, one horse float, approximately two rounds of jumps, assorted tack, feed, stable tools etc. Approx 1 cubic metre.

Provenance: a really nice waitress at our local café, in her early twenties, befriended our kids a couple of years ago. These toys were her prized possessions as a child and she was looking for some kids worthy of handing them down to.

Why am I keeping them? I feel like even though May Blossom and Garnet aren’t interested in these toys, that we are designated keepers of them. We should like them more and prize them because they were special to the waitress.

Cold Hard Truth: Kids don’t want them. Waitress didn’t want them. The waitress doesn’t work at our local café anymore. The waitress probably gave them to us because it was a Sunday before the council cleanup and her parents had said, ‘For god’s sake, you’re twenty-two. Get those damn horses and all their plastic crap out of our garage or we’re putting them ON THE KERB.’ Ours were the first kids she saw that morning.

What I should probably do: Put the horses on the kerb.

What I will do: Put the horses under the house where I can somewhat forget about them but where they will silently eat away at me, whispering up through the floorboards ‘Neigh neigh (you’re a hoarder) neigh!’

Object: numerous items of clothing that do not fit me or my lifestyle anymore. Including, but not limited to a yellow floral chiffon floor-length 1970s frock with matching apron, which I wore (sans apron because what the hell’s that about) to my friend Ellie’s wedding in early January 2008. More than one guest at that wedding referred to me in this dress as ‘the Flake lady’. The dress won’t do up any more because each time I had a baby they politely brought me a hostess gift of an enormous breast. I suppose it’s lucky I only had two babies.

Provenance: I bought this dress during a grief-stricken shopping spree at a vintage clothing shop a month before that wedding. One of my closest friends had just committed suicide.

While I sobbed in the change-room, the owner of the shop rushed about handing me more and more overpriced and slightly damaged vintage dresses and telling me how incredible I looked in them. At the time I thought her very attentive and kind. I now see that she took serious advantage of me. I came away with five dresses, at least two of which I never wore because they looked atrocious.

Why am I keeping it? What if May Blossom or Garnet want to look like the lady from the Flake ad? I can’t stop thinking about a photo of my own mother from the late 1970s in which she is wearing an astonishing floor length, hooded Icelandic wool coat. I so want that coat. I wish she had kept it. What if the Flake lady dress is that coat for one of my kids?

Cold Hard Truth: No one wants to dress like the Flake lady. The chances that a piece of clothing I keep in storage for decades being the one my kids fixate on is as slim as I was once. I can’t put my boobs on the kerb for the council cleanup (I’ve read the list of what they will and won’t accept on their website and it specifies no boobs), so I won’t be able to wear this dress again.

What I should probably do: give the dress to a charity shop or sell it on eBay.

What I will do: Put it in a plastic tub and store it under the house, where probably a ghost will find it and waft about like Miss Havisham, if Miss Havisham was in a Flake ad in the 1970s.

So that, in not very short, is why I am having trouble unpacking and putting everything away now that our renovation is finished and we are back home. I’m well aware that blogging about it is just procrastinating, and that things aren’t going to get themselves out of boxes and decide it they should stay or go. What I need is a Hogwarts-style sorting hat that I put over every object and it whispers ‘Vinnies’, ‘eBay’, ‘it was bad then and it’s worse now’, ‘regift’ or ‘third drawer down’. I wish we’d put one on our wedding registry.

7 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page