We do things differently, my husband and I.
When I clear our garage it’s generally without my glasses and as quickly as possible.
He lives by the adage that nothing should be wasted.
Everything has a purpose and if you keep something long enough it will prove useful, he says.
He is, of course, right.
We decided this spring we would put our family home of 25 years up for sale; after all, we moved out four years ago.
Included is an 1860-built shed, which is a work of art in itself, cozied into a bluestone wall.
By default, the weatherboard shed with its pitched roof, became the last resting place for everything we couldn’t bare to throw out.
We locked the door, and kept it locked, for four years.
The giant shed key hung in our brand new laundry cupboard, downtown, in our new place.
He said he would clear out the shed.
Good. I thought.
I gave him till July. I gave him till August and then I gave him till last Wednesday.
Our new place has no shed.
That’s because it is known (by partners) that when a man has a shed he has somewhere to stash stuff.
By stuff, I mean those perennially useful items like wine barrel staves, allen keys, grandfather Maurice’s boules, jars of hooks, jars of jars, jars of bread toggles and most importantly, jars of unidentifiable metal shit that only men in shorts know how and when to use.
But his stuff was dwarfed by a mountain of things our children didn’t want, but simultaneously didn’t want us to throw away.
Meaning, of course, that my husband was right.
He was innocent.
Most of the stuff in his shed belonged to our children.
You know when you move house and there’s ‘the too hard stuff?’
That’s the stuff that has no real use and is perhaps worn out?
Easily, 80 per cent of his shed was filled with ‘too hard’ stuff .
Items once shiny and prized by our children, discarded.
We found ourselves last weekend going through the shed.
For an hour I sorted stuff without my glasses, which provided a gentle type of denial to the value of all those bits and pieces.
Finally, I pulled my specs out of my jacket pocket and reluctantly acknowledged that I needed to see and feel, for one last time, their treasures.
Wearing my glasses, I stopped and handled each piece like it was part of a giant jigsaw of our family.
I turned items in my fingers and I was transported to when our home was filled with the chaos of three children, two cats, two dogs and the times of sublime intimacy that all families share.
The rough and smooth minutiae, now ended, reappeared when time had run out.
There were tiny, well-worn, pink drawstring pyjamas, old pillow cases, random plastic monsters, a large, red-painted stone, fishing lines, notes between our children, random school books filled with writing and maths and school projects on everything from dinosaurs, Princess Diana and life in colonial Launceston.
“Why do I have to feel this pain? Can’t this stuff just disappear?” I thought.
At the bottom of the last box, I picked out a brown paper bag of giant, smoothed gum nuts.
Twenty-five years ago, at the end of our first summer at 8 Bourke Street, my daughters Heather and Deirdre, bagged gum nuts and sat in front of our house for a whole day ”selling” to kindly neighbours.
I saved their unsold nuts as a talisman of my family.
They will be useful.