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400 square feet to 100 square feet: Downsizing with love

The search for new people to cherish my things


I’ve mentioned before that I recently moved from Brooklyn, New York to Boulder, Colorado. I love Boulder, but I wasn’t prepared for the massive downsize that my move would entail.

Once in Boulder, I spent 3 months bouncing around before I found a place to live. I must have looked at 20 apartments. With the growing size of University of Colorado in Boulder and all the new tech campuses here (Twitter, Google, Amazon…), available housing is expensive and rare.

It took me SO LONG to find a place to live that I woke up every morning filled with anxiety — would I find a place before my sublet ended? In fact, I had so looked forward to settling down that once I found a place, I was surprised by my response: I panicked.

Finally, I found a great place with wonderful housemates. But I was confronted with the realization that the amount of stuff I had for a 400 square foot Brooklyn studio was not going to fit in my new 100 square foot bedroom.

I was so happy to have found my new wonderful housemates, yet I went home and cried when I saw a fully-stocked kitchen, meaning that I would have to get rid of some of my beloved kitchenware.

Resigned to the purge, I started going through my things item by item. I made repeated trips to goodwill. On top of everything I had already purged before leaving NYC, I sent 6+ boxes to goodwill.

Brooklyn, NY: One of several piles I took to Goodwill. Photo by me 😉

It’s hard to let go. You’re not just letting go of the stuff, you’re letting go of the memories and dreams that go along with it.

One of the mantras that helps me let go is, “I’m going to let someone else enjoy this item now.” It’s a reminder that my things aren’t going into some black hole never to be seen again. Someone else will be able to love it and use it and make new memories with it.

After 3 months in my new place, I’m now heading toward the finish line of the purge. Downsizing had given me an unexpected gift — getting to meet some of the people who are buying from me. I can really envision my stuff being well-used and well-loved.

The buyers of my beloved stainless steel kitchen workspace were a young couple who, like me, moved here from the NYC area for a change of pace. My stainless steel table will be a cornerstone of their new food truck. They’re creating a mobile coffee shop for cyclists (!!!).

Stainless steel workspace. Photo by me 😛

The man who took my bookcase and lamp was making a new home for his nephew. Said nephew had gotten into some trouble, and the man was seeking to give his nephew a fresh start living in his basement. My metal bookcase and lamp have now become part of that story.

One thing I was particularly reluctant to say goodbye to was my set of piano books. I had owned some of them since age 8 and had held onto them after a hand injury. I hoped for many years that I might need them again. 10+ years later, I don’t even have a piano. I listed them on craigslist hoping to find someone new to enjoy them. Piano books are hard to sell. They essentially lose all their value as soon as you walk out of the music shop. I didn’t expect anyone to write me.

Today, an elderly gentleman in Broomfield called and expressed interest in my piano books. His neighbor is a shut-in, a victim of deep depression, who had just received the gift of a piano. She had played many years ago and is interested in playing again.

The gentleman just came by. It was sad to admit that my serious piano days are over. And yet. My heart is filled with love for a man who drove 20 miles to buy music books for a sad friend.


Ginna talks about her journey toward a richer (heh) life at frugalkite.com. Follow her on Medium.

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