Before I begin, I mean this literally not figuratively. I used to need two closets for clothes. Not for secrets or for things about me that I wasn't comfortable sharing with my next door neighbor. But I legit needed two closets for all of the garments that I owned. Now, part of that was because I got married and Queen Faybomb required a place for her clothes as well. When we moved in together we had to utilize the closet space in our guest bedroom for my massive, ridiculous collection of sports jerseys.
While this might not actually seem like a big collection to some jersey heads, it felt big to me. At the height, I had 22 Celtics jerseys; 11 of which were Paul Pierce. I don't even think Paul Pierce has 11 Paul Pierce jerseys. I had 11 Patriots jerseys and 14 Red Sox jerseys. Yes, I'm obviously a Boston sports fan. I also had roughly a dozen other jerseys of athletes who I admired greatly. Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, David Robinson, Shawn Kemp - those were actually all Champion jerseys that I had from when I was younger.
I've always had collector addict tendencies. Cards, video games, jerseys, toys, basically if I was into it as a kid, I probably held onto it because I enjoyed having it. When my parents started preparing for downsizing about 5 or 6 years back, all my "stuff" that was just sitting in their crawl space was decreed banished. And so began the exodus of Faybomb's junk from the Chicago suburbs. The new destination for said junk, a guest room closet in a rust belt town apartment, was a just a temporary home. A permanent residence for all this crap was required, and I wasn't going to be the one paying the property taxes for that residence. The toys, cards, and video games all went first. Those items were considerably easier to sell than secondhand clothing. The jerseys, let's just say progress has been substantial.
Over 80% of those jerseys are now gone. I've sold dozens of them on eBay. Sometimes I actually got quite a bit (Champion NBA) while other times I dumped for a fraction of what I paid. The process of selling that many sports jerseys has actually taken years. I didn't sell them all at once. A lot of them were in phases of 5 to 10 at a time - essentially when I was "ready" to part with them. A few of them were impulse sells. Fitting because most of them were also impulse buys. One of the impulse sales was a rare All-Star jersey of Paul Pierce. I generally cycled through wearing my Pierce USA and Pierce All-Star jerseys on holidays like Memorial Day and the 4th of July. They were all red, white, and blue and felt patriotic enough. One year, instead of wearing the All-Star jersey I decided to sell it instead and donated the proceeds to a veteran charity. It just felt more meaningful than wearing a basketball jersey at a cookout.
Some of the other sales were for a purpose as well. I started thinking about how much money I could get for some of the more rare jerseys and what I could do with that money instead of just letting it sit unused on a hanger. Turns out, a lot of this money was put into bitcoin or other similar investments. Basically, I parted with things that took up quite a bit of space that weren't really serving a purpose for me anymore and turned them into things that take up far less space and that potentially help me down the line. I could probably get into some of the psychological reasons why my collection got so big, but that might be better articulated in a different post.
Why am I sharing this story?
Well, physically speaking it's really awesome being able to comfortably share a closet with another person. The jerseys were really just the beginning. Already at the early stages of a minimalist's path, I started to get pretty aggressive with "getting rid of things" after watching "Tidying Up with Marie Kondo" on Netflix. Since watching that program, my wife and I have gotten rid of a ton of "kitchen essentials" that we didn't use, plug-in appliances that were just collecting dust, plates and glassware. We got rid of physical books that we were never going to read, furniture that wasn't being used, decorations, old computers and electronic devices, a car, and lot of clothes. Not just sports jerseys. My "work attire" section of my closet has been cut in half. The last time I went through my rack, if I couldn't remember wearing the garment in the last 12 months, it was gone.
Getting rid of "stuff" is one of the more liberating things I can recall in my life. I put it right up there with choosing to identify as a political independent or giving big tech the boot to the degree that I can. I've shared stories previously about digital minimalism and not feeling obligated to choose a side, but I've never really gotten into some of the steps I've taken in the physical world to try to improve my life and mental well-being. Only needing one closet for two people was a pretty big step. It seems simple enough but it was something that took us a very long time to accomplish even after making the conscious decision to declutter our lives.
Our return home after our last Goodwill clothing drop off was met with the reality that nobody would even be able to tell how much we just parted with if they came here after visiting a week earlier. The takeaway from that realization? Good. We're not doing this to impress anyone. We're doing this to simplify our lives. Everything you can see in this house has a purpose. Everything has a use case. There are no locked away bins of useless junk that you can’t see. I said to her, "do you realize if we moved out today we'd require less truck space than when we moved in and our daughter wasn't even born yet?"
"Oh absolutely. And there's nothing wrong with that."Queen Faybomb