Our apartment is nigh empty and the past few weeks I’ve had a difficult time packing and selling furniture. I’ve always been proud to easily survive on only few personal possessions so I was surprised at how upset I felt when our furniture started disappearing to strangers.
It started one afternoon when my roommate remarked at how quickly our departure was coming upon us. We set a date to take measurements and pictures of our furniture for a Craigslist ad. After meddling with the ad for awhile and listing prices at 11:30pm on a Thursday night, we finally got the MOVING SALE ad posted.
Thursday 11:45pm, 15 minutes after posting: our first Craigslist response. By Friday morning my Inbox was flooded with people clamoring to buy our stuff. The first person arrived around 10am on Friday to pick up three to four items and ended up carting away 5-6 pieces of furniture. My old rocking chair, our rickety entry way table, my roommate’s bedroom vanity, our dining room table. She cleared us out.
Next: a woman interested in more furniture. She took my roommate’s work desk and our printer, leaving a gaping hole in our living room where a cute red desk once stood.
Next: my bookshelves. A gentleman named Patrick was interested in both the shelves and my 6′ long white board. He insisted on coming by Saturday afternoon. We scheduled a time, but by Friday night I was becoming indignant. I didn’t want to sell my bookshelves. Suddenly I felt like a little kid clinging to Teddy Bear before he goes through the wash. I was clasping onto the few pieces of furniture we still had and I didn’t want to losen my grip.
Saturday morning, before Patrick arrived for the bookshelves, I wasn’t sure quite what I was feeling. Why was I suddenly so frustrated and reluctant to sell my furniture? I’ve done it before, sold entire apartments worth of furniture and purchased new pieces in the new city. I’d eagerly given away furniture to Goodwill and other charities. Why did I now feel the need to hang onto generic Ikea furniture? Nothing would be useful in Thailand and nothing was an heirloom.
I was confused. Somewhere between sentimental attachment and my pride as a nomad with few possessions, I became frustrated at myself. Frustrated about being sentimental. Frustrated because I didn’t want to be attached. I wanted to send my furniture off to good homes and be proud to minimize. Proud to leave Seattle without loose ends.
When Patrick and his girlfriend arrived on Saturday afternoon, I swallowed my frustration and anger. I helped them cart the bookshelves out to the Saab parked outside. I helped cinch the cord to ensure the three black cases were secured in his hatchback. And as I watched the Saab, stuffed to the brim with empty shelves, drive off down the hill I finally let out a breath of relief.
The following Tuesday my roommates and I held a house-exit party. A sort of reverse house-warming party—a partial effort to sell more furniture but also a parting celebration for all of us leaving Seattle.
Sipping on a beer, my friend, Wendy broached the topic of our furniture for sale.
“Did you sell your bookshelves to a guy named Patrick last week?”
“Yeah.” I was confused. How did Wendy know this random Craigslister?
I confirmed her description of his features.
“And he also bought your 6-foot wide dry erase board too?”
“Yeah. How do you know all this?”
Turns out even Seattle is a small city. The random person from Craigslist who bought my frustratingly sentimental furniture knew Wendy. Good folks, Wendy reassured me. They’re good people.
And just like that. My sentimental attachment was gone. The bare space left in our living room seemed right. Somewhere Patrick and the other Craigslist folks were rejoicing over their new, cheaply purchased furniture. And now I can rejoice and renew my pride. I’m back to having only a few worldly possessions.