Simple Pleasures #1: Giving Away Things from Your Basement

Quite a number of years ago I read a wonderful book by Barbara Holland, Endangered Pleasures: In Defense of Naps, Bacon, Martinis, Profanity, and Other Indulgences. It’s slim, elegant volume for a world that is stressed out, overscheduled, and perpetually on a guilt trip about diet, parenting, work/life balance, and on.

I thought I would start a little blog series on what I see as some simple pleasures. Being Italian, I am going to have to be careful not to make them all food- or sense-related. So, today’s pleasure is …

Giving Away Things from Your Basement

When I was a kid, I loved foraging around in relatives’/friends’ basements and attics. (I’m not sure they liked it, and in fact I’m quite sure my grandparents hated it, but that’s another story.) When I got my first apartment back in the 80s, I furnished it almost entirely from people’s basements: old plates and glasses, old furniture, old lamps, and old bed and a few old clocks that still kept time. There’s something appealing about reclaiming something that was once loved and couldn’t be parted with, and then giving it new life.

I would say my basement is fairly neat/orderly, but it nonetheless contains decades worth of stuff that I couldn’t bear to throw out, either because it has sentimental value, or because it was serviceable and not broken, or because I was sure I would some day have a use for it, or ….

So I always get a little thrill when something that’s been sitting down there for years gets put to good use. Recently, the elderly father of a friend set up a studio apartment for the winter. It needed to be furnished quickly and inexpensively, and I was able to donate a lot of useful (if not new) goodies from the basement … cups, saucers, a toaster, an old microwave, etc. This had the dual benefit of making that stuff useful again while also making some room on the shelves.

But today I got an even bigger boost. Remember those old sheets of computer paper with the holes along the left and right side? You kept it in a box under your desk and fed it into your printer; all the sheets are attached, so you have to separate them one by one after they print out. I bought that box of paper when I had my first computer in 1987 (which, by the way, did not even have enough memory to hold my master’s thesis, which was only 25 pages long). I have been carrying that box around since then because, after all, it is perfectly good paper if someone wants to spend time ripping the strips off the left and right sides, and then separating the individual sheets. I am pleased to report that a friend found good use for this 30-year-old box of paper, and it has now left my hands AND a nice size space on the shelf of my closet. A win-win situation.

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