Zen On Dirt

Sorting a shed of stuff

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All summer, but especially as our return to the desert was imminent, I had one major stressor associated with Tucson. And it wasn’t the fact that we didn’t have a place to live.

It was our shed of stuff.

When we’d moved out of our place last April, our landlord had let use the shed in the backyard of the property as storage as a Thanks for being good tenants. It wasn’t a huge shed, but we’d packed it pretty full. As usual, we hadn’t done a thorough comb-through of the stuff we put back there as our move-out date approached. Scott had some boxes back there that hadn’t been moved back into the house for three years.

After seven months of living in the van with whatever belongings had made the road-trip cut and feeling that I’d lacked nothing, I halfway wished the shed would just burn down.

But, Scott’s big bike was in there, so it’s probably a good thing it didn’t. Especially after our other bikes got stolen.

When we found our little house to live in, we bought Lee a burrito at Seis in exchange for helping us move our stuff out of the shed with his flatbed trailer.


As we moved boxes and boxes of dusty, musty stuff out of the semi-leaky shed, I asked repeatedly, ‘What is this stuff?’

We’ve spent the past three weeks sorting through all of our belongings with the goal of moving into the Scamp sometime in January. We don’t believe in having monthly payments if we can avoid them, except for health insurance (yes mom, I still have health insurance), so we didn’t want to have a storage unit that we could, once again, pile crap into.

Tumbleweed got some new curtains!

Sorting has been interesting, especially watching Scott. He had to go through the process of culling that I went through three years ago before I mobilized myself to move to AZ. For years, he had a house. For years, papers and memorabilia accumulated. Each summer, since no longer owning a house, he’s had a convenient and easy place to put the boxes of accumulation without much thought.

Sorting through stuff, especially potentially sentimental stuff, with the idea of reducing belongings is pretty low on the fun factor scale. So it never happened.


While I had to go through my clothing drawer (I tried on shorts from highschool that still fit, but axed them to Goodwill after Scott made a Meh face at them) and try to cut it in half, Scott was going through school assignments from when he was an undergrad.

It made me appreciate the culling that I’ve done on a regular basis.

It’s also made me think hard about the amount of stuff we buy. In the past decade or so, everything I’ve bought has been with the thought of ‘When I move next (which was a yearly thing for a while, and then a six month thing for a few years, and now will be a permanent thing), am I going to want to haul this along?’

Getting rid of stuff during each move was so much more emotionally painful than choosing not to buy it in the first place. I held pretty strongly to the ‘If I haven’t used it in a year, it’s gone’ rule.

I’ve definitely have bought less and less as the years have gone on. Which means that not only do I not have to deal with the stress of moving/storing stuff, but I don’t have to earn the money to buy it in the first place and can spend my money on more important things, like Avo breakfast burritos at Seis, Seis-style, of course. This is winning in my book.

We used every item that we had in our van this summer, from multiple sleeping bags to cords and chargers to books on edible berries to our first aid kit. From town clothes to camp clothes. From cups and bowls to knives and forks. Nothing was in excess, yet nothing was missing.

There’s something beautiful about the simplicity about that level of stuff.

On a side note, I fully appreciate keeping some level of photos and memorabilia. We’ve had several moments of hilarity as Scott’s unearthed photos of mountain biking or computer camps in the 1990’s.


Luckily, we both have parents that are willing to turn a blind eye to a bin or two of stuff squirreled away into the dark recesses of their houses. And for that, even minimalistic grouch me, is thankful. Plus, I’ve been able to hold onto my backcountry ski gear, which I really hope I get to use to get up some peaks this spring.

Two large loads have gone to Goodwill. I’ve found a new home for my fatbike where she’ll actually be used more than once a year. And once we take “memorabilia” to Boulder over Christmas and a load of bike stuff to Bicas when we get back, we’ll be ready to hit the road.

With no stupid shed of ‘stuff’ to deal with when we get back.


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