We have things. Lots and lots of things. And as we’ve gotten older and made more money, purchased a home and gotten steady jobs to support all these things, we’ve realized that simply having these things is exhausting. Little by little we are trying to live a better life with less. It’s liberating most of the time, but occasionally we bump up against getting rid of things that are really hard to part with.
We recently decided to part with one of those more difficult things. Our music collection.
As a kid I didn’t have much of an ear for music, but then I got to college and people started introducing me to everything. I went from knowing a lot of James Taylor, the Indigo Girls and Tom Petty to actually being exposed to what my peers were listening to. I started listening to the radio. People noticed my void of music knowledge and started to try to fix it, burning me CDs, lending me albums, making me mixes. When I got my first car as a junior in college my friend made me a driving mix and my memories of that summer are filled with Grant Lee Buffalo’s voice. Whenever I hear him even now his voice just sounds like independence and sunshine. Later, prior to asking me on a date, some guy gave me a mix CD based on a song he’d heard in my car when I gave him a ride home from class one night, even though my ‘89 BMW only had a tape deck. Then I met Regan and he made me a mixtape in a specially designed cassette case. I got hooked on Spoon and The Doves, James, Hot Hot Heat and Karate that spring.
Then a year after we started dating we merged our music collections. My Dar Williams and Modest Mouse got mixed in with his hip hop. Then we started building our music collection together. We spent summers listening to new artists and seemed to spend winters listening to the old stuff. We went through a phase where we’d head to Luna Music on Sundays and get double stamps on our customer card, looking forward to the day we could show up with a fully stamped card and get a free album. Peeling into our new albums each Sunday we’d eagerly pop them into the player in the car. I’d read the lyrics and liner notes while Regan drove us on mini-adventures.
Then somewhere along the line we noticed that we had more stuff than we wanted. We started buying less of everything. We slowed down our trips to the music store. We started downloading most of our music instead of buying albums and our collection of CDs, with nowhere else to go, sat in a tub in Regan’s closet. We occasionally raided said tub to find a bit of nostalgia — maybe my Godspell soundtrack from high school or maybe Regan would grab a handful of hip hop to take with him on a drive somewhere if I wasn’t going along. But we largely ignored that pile of good music sitting, hidden away. Some was burned on my computer, some on his. Portions of our collection were on our iPods, but physically sifting through our music collection, looking at the album art, reading the liner notes — all of that just went away.
So we decided that if we weren’t taking advantage of having something then maybe we should get rid of it. Not the music, of course, but the physical object attached to it. So Regan took our collection and transferred it all to our computer, backed it up, and then we got ready to give our music collection away. But first we had to wait. It sat on the floor in stacks for a while. We’d walk through his office, look at it and say, “We really need to get rid of that soon.” Then we’d wait some more, delaying as long as we could. But this weekend we decided to just get it over with.
When we arrived with our clothes hamper of music, the staff at Half Priced Books swarmed in and sorted it, commented on it, got kind of excited by it. They gave us a lovely wad of cash for it all and I wanted to happily walk out the door and just feel lighter, but somehow I just felt as though I’d left something behind. I kept thinking that maybe I should have kept Aimee Mann’s Lost in Space Special Edition because I remember how happy I was buying it with Regan, or maybe we should have held onto The Format’s Dog Problems because, really, I just like to look at the album art.
Give me a week and I’ll be entirely over it and not give it a second thought, but right now I’m just kind of mourning the loss of a bunch of stuff I don’t actually need. Sometimes it’s really hard to get rid of things, even if it gets us closer to our goal of living simply and having less.