Pulling the Trigger on Craigslist

We’re 16 days away from leaving Chattanooga. Within that time we will need to have cleared the house of everything we own, put the things we’re keeping in a storage container and sold or donated the rest. It’s really not a lot of time to pare down the contents of a 3900 square foot house to fit into an 8×16 foot box. There should definitely be a sense of urgency here.

And yet, I can’t push publish. I have this massive Craigslist posting drafted and ready to go. It details the 32 pieces of furniture we will be selling as we liquidate our Chattanooga life. All I have to do is publish the damn thing…but I keep staring at it.

We decided to sell most of our furniture because, after multiple kids, dogs, parties and mishaps, the stuff isn’t exactly in perfect condition. Trundling along on the back of a truck is only going to create more damage. Economically, the storage and shipping fees saved on selling all of this stuff now will compensate for some of the cost of repurchasing, and, psychologically, it feels cathartic to minimize and start fresh.

Yet, we are certainly feeling the materialistic pull that seems to define success in our society. Brian said it best the other night when he was sitting on our living room couch, ran his hand along the leather and then said with a look of amused and somewhat stunned realization, “We’re 38 years old, we have 3 kids and we won’t own a couch.” Kind of sums it up, right? As part of western society, we’re often in the mode of defining ourselves by what we have. We may not want to admit it, but it’s why I care about decorating our house and why Brian likes to have the latest technological gadget. The things we possess make a statement about ourselves to some extent. So what does it mean if “we won’t own a couch”?

Are we professional failures? Are we bad parents? Are we unconventional eccentrics? No, no and…yeah, probably. My difficulty in publishing this Craigslist ad might be revealing my own inner turmoil over the statement we’re making by doing all this. Maybe there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to let go of those tangible tokens of “success.” Maybe I’m afraid that pushing that publish button will define us in a very different way, one that I’m not totally comfortable acknowledging.

Or maybe I just don’t want to deal with the friggin’ hassle of dozens of strangers calling me night and day to pick through a bunch of crap I don’t care about.

Either way…here we go. PUBLISH!

About the Author

Tracey Carisch

Mom, wife, friend and change agent traveling the world with my family to learn our place in it. After spending a career in organizational change management and community initiative implementation, I put my career on hold for our family's trip around the world. In April of 2014 we sold almost everything we own, put the rest in a storage container, and departed on this journey. While my husband continued his software development work to financially support our trip, I planned and documented our adventure, homeschooled our three daughters, and found volunteer work opportunities for us to do in the communities we visit. Now that we've returned to the U.S., I'm completing book about our family's adventure and our lessons learned.

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  1. Is it really just the tangibles of success though? I question that it’s just “materialism” that drives us. And it could be the hassle of selling to strangers with phone calls, etc, for sure! But so often what we have or own is more significant for the memories they provide us than for their actual value. Things are part of our lives, whether we like it or not. Remember when…. someone spilled paint all over this, the dog used to sit in front of this, we got this because…..etc, etc, but keeping the photos can keep those memories alive too. I liked looking at your photos of your items for sale, because I too have memories. Keep the photos, even when the things are gone, and venture forward!

  2. Your “100 Ways…” could begin with you donating those items to a local organization that helps outfit newly arrived immigrants, most fleeing from some sort of persecution in their homeland. I can get you information if you like the idea.

    I also might have an Africa contact…if you’re interested, email me.

    Best wishes and looking forward to reading your life story!

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