The Un-Nesting Syndrome

Returning guest blogger Sunny Frazier, whose first novel in the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries, Fools Rush In, received the Best Novel Award from Public Safety Writers Association, is here today to remind us that nesting in our early years doesn’t hold up too well as we get considerably older and we end up with stuff that needs to be purged in one way or another.

The third Christy Bristol Astrology Mystery, A Snitch in Time, is in bookstores now.   //

I’ve been noticing a trend starting up among people my age (66). We wake up one morning, look around and feel suffocated by STUFF. It’s everywhere. It needs to be dusted. There’s no memory of where it came from, who gave it as a gift. It’s not a treasure. It becomes one with our environment. We start wondering if we’ve become hoarders.

When I left home, I owned my clothes and not much else. I rented a furnished studio apartment in the Los Angeles area for $80 a month. I remember putting inexpensive kitchen curtains on lay-away (they were probably all of $20) and used them to block the bar brawls across the street.

When I went into the service, I brought nothing with me as the Navy supplied everything I needed. When I was discharged, everything I owned fit into a trunk, two suitcases and a few boxes shipped home.

As a college student, I furnished my apartment like every other college student: cinder block bricks and boards for bookshelves, industrial wooden wire spool for a coffee table, a mattress on the floor served as a couch, plastic milk crates were converted to coffee tables.

Past that stage, when adulthood begins to set in and there’s a clearer picture of the future, nesting starts. I’m sure it’s primarily a female thing, making a nest for the future husband and children. Appliances and furniture first, then fluffy pillows, artwork on the walls, decorative vases. Children bring home their efforts from school and it clutters on the fridge.

Over the years the souvenirs lose meaning. Wedding, birthday and anniversary presents get dusty in the cupboard and never used. Nobody wants to inherit the family china. What were once treasures are now packed away and forgotten. Once in a junk drawer, in the garage, stuffed in a closet or a spare room, it’s never seen again.

I told my friends, many of them grandmothers now, that I was purging all this debris in my life. Nearly every one of them said they were at the same stage. They have things too good to throw away but never used. Clothes from a few decades back but no longer age appropriate or the right size. It’s hard to throw away things that are still serviceable. I hoard notebooks and paper, early writings are wilting in folders and boxes. Are they worth keeping? I don’t know anymore. Everything goes on the computer these days as we become a “paperless” society.

My game plan is to gift Goodwill much of my belongings. Someone will find good use of it all. Some cash-poor person will be able to choose a nice present for someone they love. My things will find a good home. I’m not a yard sale or swap meet person. I’ll donate my military uniforms to the local theatre group. With the rest, I will fill up my trash cans and wave goodbye as the garbage man hauls it off.

The nest has become too full. I want to go back to simpler times when I had next to nothing and was happy. This isn’t spring cleaning—it’s life cleaning.