Fifty-one Years Of Stuff

May 17th, 2023 by Tom Lynch

The story of the stuff.

Friends, I’m exhausted.

I’ve been away from this beloved keyboard for six weeks, and, because I’m addicted to Mr. QUERTY, the withdrawal has been painful. But have I been slacking off, ignoring my responsibility to do my best to afflict the comfortable? Not a bit. Why? Let me tell you a story about the stuff, the dumpsters, a painful ending, and a bright beginning.

Fifty one years ago, after spending a few years in the U.S. Army, two of which on an all-expenses-paid trip to Southeast Asia, property of the 101st Airborne Division, my late wife Marilyn and the two-year-old daughter I was just beginning to know left the red clay of Fort Benning Georgia, returned to Massachusetts and, after some time getting reacquainted with parents and friends, bought a house in Central Massachusetts.

Thus began the Great Accumulation.

A few years later we enlarged the house to accommodate Marilyn’s parents who had sold their spacious  home and were entering the period in life my wife Karen calls the “smallening down phase.” A few years after that, having achieved some professional success, we enlarged the house further—a lot.

We now had 13 rooms, a great big attic, an even bigger basement, and a large garage with storage area above.

I’m sure you will recall the old adage, “Nature abhors a vacuum.” I’m living proof.

Over the succeeding years, the family managed to accumulate an immense amount of what George Carlin famously called “stuff.”¹

The trouble is, we never knew we were bringing so much stuff into the house, because, after using it, we always packed it away in the cavernous attic, basement or garage. Oh, and don’t let me forget the closets—they can hold more than you think, and we had a lot of them, big ones, too.

And then, of course, there was the storage unit.

Why didn’t we have the occasional purge of stuff? My excuse is it seemed like a big job (I was right), and we were busy all the time, and, besides, we couldn’t see it; it was all hidden away. So the stuff kept growing, sort of like the carnivorous monster alien from outer space in the 1958 horror movie, The Blob, that kept growing by eating everything in its path.²

Since the pandemic began, we’ve been living at our place in the Berkshires, the place where I write these Letters. About six months ago we concluded it didn’t make a lot of sense anymore to have two big homes, so we decided one of them had to go, and Central Mass drew the short straw.

Thus began the Great Disaccumulation.

Little did we know what we were in for. But this will sum it up. One 17 Yard dumpster and three (yup, three) 1-800-Got-Junk full dumpster trucks later (with one more still to go when we get rid of the last humongous pile in the garage), we have emptied the house of 51 years of stuff, and the Central Mass beauty went on the market today. If you’re interested in a house in Central Massachusetts with a great big basement, attic, garage, and closets, the place can be yours.

After six weeks of travail, I cannot tell you how good it feels to sit at this keyboard and not be lugging boxes.

By the way, about that place in the Berkshires? It doesn’t have an attic, the basement is fully furnished (it’s where the pool table is), and the closets are normal. Not much chance of another Great Accumulation. Moreover, although I find it hard to believe, odds are we won’t be here for 51 years.


¹ Watch the video—it’s hilarious.

² Trivia moment—The Blob was Steve McQueen’s movie debut. He played the teenage hero.





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