While I was a professor I collected books to supplement and extend the textbook material on the mathematical specialties I taught. By the time I decided to retire I had shelves of these specialized materials. It was hard to accept that no longer would I need most of it. It was a bit easier to accept that I could not send that library across the Great Plains, through a desert and over two mountain ranges.
I sweetened the parting from my library by negotiating one-by-one with my colleagues and advanced students to give them books that matched their particular interests. Distributing books among a couple dozen folks took care of the surplus. (And one colleague even took my small bookshelf!)
Today, a year later, one of those students told us that he decided to pursue graduate school after reading the books I chose for him. His acceptance is in hand! He’s off to new adventures in the fall.
During the month before we moved out, the townhouses on either side of mine were rented to undergraduates: three young ladies on one side and an engaged couple on the other.
Each of the young ladies had a kitten which they would (attempt to) walk on leashes through the common area that ran behind our townhouses. The kittens’ adorable refusal to accept their walkers’ suggestions and the young ladies’ mounting frustrations presented an interesting spectacle for their old lady neighbor and her elderly cat.
Distractions notwithstanding, once engaged, the eye for decluttering possibilities never closes! Cat lovers!!!! I offered and the young ladies were delighted to accept my (strictly indoor) cat’s carpeted scratching post that was too cumbersome to move with us.
A little later I offered my never-used and by now utterly superfluous futon mattress to the couple moving in on the other side. (Its frame had been one of my assemble-it-yourself failures that had gone to the scavengers weeks earlier.) The couple didn’t need it, but the next thing I knew, the kittens’ keepers leapt forth gushing with delight over this treasure. Five undergraduates promptly went to work “disappearing” that futon into the young ladies’ house. It would be perfect, they assured me, with much corroborating detail, for the playroom they were putting together.
And the couple did end up taking my dinette table, two chairs and two enormous bookshelves.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the complex, a former student of mine and his wife were preparing to move to take new jobs. They observed carefully these various transactions and after awhile the young husband appeared on my doorstep. “We were wondering,” he asked, “Whether you have an extra box, one that would be big enough to hold our cat’s exercise tunnel…”
The next day one of my custom wardrobe boxes proved to be superfluous. I brought it out, knocked on their door…. And got to watch his wife’s eyes light up like Christmas. Of course their cat’s equipment fit into it perfectly…..