We’ve been digging through boxes, emptying out cupboards and moving things up and down stairs, as we consolidate our households.
Marriages — especially those that occur later in life — are like business mergers. Sometimes, once the deal is consummated, there is a duplication of assets that has to be addressed.
Common sense doesn’t always prevail in these decisions. In marriages, some assets have sentiment attached, and things can get complicated.
When there is a true redundancy, the course is clear. Take our kitchen stand mixers. Well, take one of them, please.
They’re the same color, the same brand and roughly the same vintage. One must go. All things being equal, I say keep the cleaner of the two and donate the other to the church rummage sale. Case closed.
But, we both also have a lot of art, some of it collected years ago when our tastes weren’t as refined as we’d like to think they are today. And while we have similar tastes, they’re not identical. I don’t have the same attachment to Thai art — think elephants wearing armor — as does my wife who while growing up had a foreign exchange “brother” from Thailand. (She’s never said so but I’m guessing she doesn’t share my warm affection for an Egyptian papyrus drawing that hangs in our newly reconfigured study).
We’re nothing, however, if not diplomatic. We recently had the parlor redecorated as our music room. In a situation like this, if Beverly asks me what I think about hanging one of her jazz portraits in a particular spot, I am quite adept at skirting the question.
Beverly: “Do you think my ‘Lady Day’ poster would look good in the parlor?”
Irv: “Oh, my God. I think a meteorite just crash-landed in St. Paul’s parking lot.”
I know what you’re thinking. Smooth.
Books are an area where we have to do some winnowing. I was scanning the shelves in the study just today and I think we’ll both be able to agree that we do not need three copies of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare.”
The good news is that there is lots of space for most of our books, and we shouldn’t have to reduce our culinary collection, which is impressive, or our volumes on language and writing. Enthusiasm for good food and a love of good writing are a shared passion, so we already know those books will stay.
I should note that our recent marriage isn’t the only reason we are so motivated to reorganize. The other day, my youngest son packed up and headed off to pursue his education at a college in far northern New York. It’s a development that allows us to stretch, extending our living space into areas not available to us previously.
His move struck me as remarkably efficient. What he knew he couldn’t take with him he either sold or stashed in the basement for retrieval later.
Before dawn on a snowy morning, he loaded up the car and took off.
I was thinking that we could all take a lesson from him. Don’t let sentimentality get in the way of your goals. Don’t place too much emphasis on material things. Travel light. Enjoy the journey.
He called me to say everything was fine, though he’d gotten lost for about an hour and he’d moved all his stuff into the wrong room and had to move everything a second time.
What he really wanted to talk about was his shoes. Did I know where they were? Upon arriving, he realized the only footwear he had with him were his slippers.
And I mentally edited my recent epiphany to allow that it’s all right to put a little emphasis on material things.
Irv Dean is the Gazette's city editor. Reach him by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.