Monday, April 4, 2011

Misplaced Value

We I moved out of home at 19, I started building a little life for myself. I had beautiful towels, a brand new lounge suite, bedroom suite, dining suite... I had beautifully mismatched plates each chosen carefully because I loved the design and felt it was a waste to purchase a set that was identical when there were so many to choose from.

When I broke up with my long term boyfriend and my home turned into a shared flat out of necessity, these beautiful things were each sacrificed in some way shape or form. The dresser gained a cigarette burn, the coffee table had to be replaced. The dining chairs fell victim to drunken falls and the plates were chipped by rushed flatmates taking their turn to help wash up.
As much as was lost, was gained. Books were left behind my flatmates moving on, DVDs as well. Dishes dropped in by well-meaning Mums were forgotten in the back of cupboards. Towels were lost amongst the linen cupboard shelves. A dear flatmate moving overseas left us a stereo and DVD player. My home became a container for collected items, all with stories, though not all of them known.

Now, as we prepare to leave the country for 4 months, many of these things find themselves redundant. The value of keeping them is less than the cost of storing them. We will keep a lot of things - our lounge suite stays, as does the dining table and bookcase. Our books, DVDs and Cd's have been halved, some packed, some given away, some sold. The coffee table left to us by a builder flatmate moving for work some 3 years ago, is going to yet another home. The TV cabinet I had custom made to fit my TV and Home Theatre - the first piece of furniture I ever bought - sold for only $10, the appliances it was made for gone long before it.

As much as it is sad watching 5 years of collecting walk out the door one item at a time, the value of these purchases is also bought to question. A buffet cabinet, once used to hold a tank for my two turtles, themselves long gone, sold for $300 5 years after it's purchase for $650. The $10 income from the aforementioned TV cabinet however, didn't come near it's $450 purchase price.
Besides the big ticket items, there are hundreds of smaller things we have accumulated. As I sort through hair clips that each cost $10-15, no one would want them now but me. I might get $1 on Trade Me but chances are I wouldn't even get that. The same goes for knick knacks, plant pots, paint rollers, pots of screws... I don't need any of these things but neither does anyone else. If they do, they will buy new or borrow. So what was the point in spending all that money? This question plays over and over in my head. I feel like I am in time lapse, watching as rubbish bags full of now-valueless hardware, stationery and broken umbrellas pass by and Trade Me members come to the door one by one, taking pieces of my collection away with them.

When I get back from Europe, I think I will be slower to spend money. I shop by impulse and I also always have projects on the go. The paint rollers are from repainting my old bedroom, and I keep them 'just incase', even though I last used them 4 years ago. No more. Out they go. When I get back, will I be so quick to spend, when I have now seen the true value of an item, even new and unused, once it leaves the store shelves? What do I need with all of these things?

I am not a hoarder by any means, I regularly clean out my drawers and cupboards and I thoroughly enjoy it. This collection is a product of projects, not only of myself but of 5 years of flatmates in a 4 bedroom house. And it's worth nothing to anyone but me. I am genuinely saddened to see my things go. Once excited by the potential of a ruthless mega-clean out, I feel a little more empty as my home becomes a shell.