June 11, 2006

Downsizing Our Lives

Living in Houston is living LARGE and moving to London is the next phase in our lives… living small. At first we were concerned that we wouldn’t be able to adjust to a small flat after living in the soaring rooms of our Houston townhouse. Could we tolerate a living space in which our California King bed wouldn’t fit, our giant library of books couldn’t be displayed and our clothes not conveniently stored?

Our “Adopt Our Stuff” party today was the perfect send off for our London reduction. Friends and associates came over to peruse our castoff belongings. In the first thirty minutes we had successfully downsized. One friend asked, “are you’ll sad about giving away all your stuff? We feel weird taking it.” Not at all! I was ear-to-ear smiles as our Houston circle adopted our things. It was difficult not to run upstairs and grab more stuff to give away.

For the next two years our possessions will be in storage in Houston. We are taking only a few bits and pieces of our most sacred things with us to London. What makes the cut? Not much. Clothes, a few books, my Frida Kahlo keepsakes and of course our electronic data. Everything else goes into storage. It is a wonderful, freeing experience.

This afternoon we went to see Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth http://www.climatecrisis.net/ and were even more inspired about our move. As we prepare to cast off our cars I feel an instant relief about getting rid of gas guzzling vehicles, monthly payments and insurance – as well as the stress of driving. I am committed to walking, using public transit and biking as much as possible. Stephen and I agreed that our new UK household appliances would be fuel-efficient. The thought of living without air conditioning is the icing on the cake.

As Gore’s movie concluded I was inspired to clap, but I was alone. Houstonians got up and walked out as the “how-to” advice moved across the big screen. His words hit too close to home. If the ice caps melt, Houston will flood. If we cut down on gas usage, Houston’s big business will tank. If we demand zero emissions, Houstonians will melt in the heat.

Exiting the theater Stephen and I agreed that we’ve had enough of living in cities on fault lines and ones in which you have artificially freeze the air nine months a year. Certainly London will have its vices but we believe that we will live more consciously, starting with downsizing our lives.