‘I had my chance to downsize, but I just couldn’t do it’

May 03, 2021
One of the things Adrienne has struggled to part with is the many books in her collection. Source: Stock Photo/Getty Images

Three years ago, I had my chance to downsize. Well, half a chance, really. I was given 11 days to pack my gear and find somewhere else to live. I could have moved to a one- or two-bedroom unit, but I just couldn’t do it. I looked at a couple. They were dark and dingy and small. Too small! I had lived in a house with my partner and loved the storage space that four bedrooms and three garages gave me. For $5 a week more rent, I found a four-bedroom house with its own pool and a double garage.

It’s not a big house — it has only one bathroom and one toilet and the laundry tub is tucked under the house, but it’s enough. I spend most summer days either in the pool or relaxing in the nearby outdoor area. The lounge room isn’t huge, but there are French doors opening to the verandah, which makes it less claustrophobic. There’s only room for two single recliners, which makes watching TV a maximum two-person activity. The dining area is also small; too small for meals, but okay for study.

I wouldn’t call myself a hoarder, but others might. Mostly, I need space to store my books. I’ve always loved books. I have a fantastic collection of children’s classics as well as a library of memoirs, true stories and novels. When I was working, I bought books for myself as well as received them as birthday and Christmas presents from friends and family. They all knew how much I loved books. My collection just kept growing.

Nowadays, I walk past Dymocks and QBD and just drool. I’m determined not to buy a single book until I’ve read the ones I have. I have given whole collections of books away, but there are some I just can’t part with. Most of the primary school reading resources I used in my last job have been given to a needy school in Vanuatu. The teachers were ecstatic to receive not only multiple copies but teachers’ notes and activity books as well.

I reluctantly parted with my encyclopaedias — not because I used them regularly — I have Google for that, but because I remembered how much I’d paid for them! I gave away two whole shelves of non-fiction war books I knew I would never read: books on navy ships, aircraft, submarines and artillery, but my double garage is still filled with bookcases overflowing with books. There are some other collections too: four glass-fronted display boxes of spoons collected from all over the world, three shelves of my teddy bear collection, and a glass fronted credenza filled with keepsakes and knick-knacks precious to me, but probably worth nothing to anyone else.

Now that I’m on the pension and not working full-time, I’ve realised I won’t always be able to afford the rent here, which has increased by 15 per cent since I moved in. If my landlord decides he wants his house back (probably to demolish it and build units) at any time in the future, I’ll be up the proverbial creek.

So, recently, I applied for ‘social housing’. I’m told there’s a three- to five-year waiting list. Maybe by then I’ll be ready to downsize …

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