|With no where to go they all have to play together.|
Anyone I’ve talked to over the last year knows that the lack of space has been the biggest adjustment to life in England. I now realize how spoiled we were to have so much space before moving, just the thought of a 3 car garage or a pantry sounds like absurd luxury today. When we first moved I was shocked, as I’m sure I’ve written about before, but there are no closets, no bathroom drawers, not even a full size fridge. The first few months were a painful transition and I felt like I was living in an over sized playhouse instead of a family home. Today we’ve adjusted, while I would love some more room we have made the space work.
Yesterday I had to go to Tesco to get Patrick a clipboard for his overnight trip to Northern France (he just left today and this is just one of multiple France trips he has this year). Think of Tesco like a cheaper, poorly merchandised version of Target. When we first moved my Mom and I hunted down a Tesco figuring it would be the answer we were looking for while trying to get the house sorted and needed all sorts of odds and ends. In reality I think I’ve been 3 times all year. I go to the grocery store multiple times each week and then also make regular trips to the pharmacy for toiletries, so when I need something that doesn’t fall into those two categories I figure a trip to Tesco is in order. So Ella and I dropped Kellen off at school and tracked down the Tesco Superstore. Now I used to make trips to Target all the time and it seems like I would go in for a few specific items and leave with all sorts of random things I ‘needed’. So pulling into the Tesco parking lot I assumed that I had all sorts of things waiting for me inside that I couldn’t live without.
Ella and I started our tour of the store and aisle after aisle there was nothing I needed. I was trying to rack my brain, what was it I would buy at Target and where was it located in this store? I could not think of one must have item that I’ve been living without. I ended up only buying the clipboard and travel size toothpaste for Jamie’s work trip this week. As I was checking out I had a feeling I was forgetting something. There must be something we need; I’ve come all the way to Tesco! As I walked out with my empty bags (you bring your own bags everywhere here) it hit me, when you have no space every purchase you make means something else needs to go. So suddenly not only am I spending money on Halloween themed kitchen towels I don’t need but I will have to literally get rid of existing kitchen towels in order to make room for the new ones.
As I drove home the beauty of less space started to dawn on me. When we packed our things to move it was shocking to see the amount of stuff we had. Ceiling racks full of random things in the garage, closets in each room packed full of useless stuff, even a pantry full of more food then we could eat in a month. Now when something is no longer of immediate use it’s to the tip. The tip, or the Household Waste Recycling Centre, is a blend of the dump; recycling centre and donation drop off. It’s free and has bays for different kinds of waste paper, clothing, yard waste, etc. Anything that can be recycled is or it goes to general household waste. I load up my trunk and swing through whenever we have larger items to get rid of; it’s my new favourite place. So in our new world I regularly go through things like kid’s clothes, anything too small is in a bag and to the tip. Toys have out grown, to the tip. Jamie does sweeps of the garage, to the tip.
Today we have less stuff. Initially the space was a forcing function but today it turns out a lot of that stuff just isn’t worth it. When forced to make a physical trade off, if I buy some random kitchen item I will then have to get rid of an existing kitchen item, it turns out you don’t really want most of the things you see in the store. I did breakdown and buy a slow cooker through Amazon, it just arrived on Monday and I’ve used it each night just because I can’t figure out where I’m going to store it. So on the limited counter space is a large reminder that I really shouldn’t buy things I don’t have room for.
Overall I would love another room, a bigger fridge, some closet space and the thought of having a laundry room is enough to make me miss the States. But in reality I think we are learning some good lessons on the difference between want and need (we still have a lot to learnJ) and really are changing certain aspects of our lifestyle. We are still consumers but not quite in the same pointless way. A wake up call for me is that I still can’t quite remember what it was that I couldn’t live without each visit to Target.