Skipping town: Where should I put all my stuff?
By Lucy Sankey Russell
It is hard to leave Charlottesville after living here with my family for over 18 years. Friends and teachers, colleagues and classmates, neighbors and students, doctors and the nice woman who takes my money at BreadWorks: I will miss you all.
It is also hard from a purely practical standpoint. After so many years, we have a lot of stuff— some of which we don’t want to take with us, and some the movers won’t take. In the process of figuring out how to shed our belongings, I’ve collected information about the modern world of recycling and waste disposal that I didn’t have before. Along the way, I have been reminded of the many memories Charlottesville holds for me.
Books go to Gordon Avenue Library, where my younger daughter, at age two, catapulted off a small wooden chair and into a table. “Please call Pediatric Associates and tell them we’re on our way,” I asked the librarian as I carried my crying child out the door. Now we pile boxes of books into our Subaru and take them to the library’s back entrance, where you can leave donations. I pull up just in front of the handicapped parking space, prop open the library’s back door with a rock, and carry the heavy boxes in, one by one. No one is around. I feel like I am getting away with something, but actually these books are like salmon, swimming home— most of them came from the spring book sale. While I’m there, I slip the last of our library books through the return slot at the Ackley Lane drive-through.
Old eyeglasses? As I put three pairs in the Lion’s Club box at my ophthalmologist’s office, I remember my older daughter wearing the blue-green oval wire frames as she walked to the bus that would take her to Walker Upper Elementary School. I almost reach in to fish them back out.
Compact fluorescent bulbs? They’re supposed to last for years, right? Well, they don’t, but you can’t put burned-out bulbs in the trash, the McIntire recycling center doesn’t take them, and I really don’t want to pay the movers to pack them for us. Turns out you can drive old bulbs up to Lowe’s and place them in a blue bin at the front of the store. I remember my first trip to Lowe’s in 1994, when the building was much smaller, to buy a kitchen step stool, which I guess we are taking with us. Lowe’s is just a 15-minute drive from our house, but that’s far enough to make going there feel like an excursion; a trip to Target is an even bigger deal and requires advance planning. The only time I have ever wished things were farther apart was when our daughters needed to put in the 45 parent-supervised hours behind the wheel required for their driver’s licenses. That’s a lot of trips up 29 to Target and back.
Computers? How did we get to be the kind of family that has old computers sitting in the basement? But more immediately, what in the world do you do with them? You can take laptops and monitors and cell phones to Staples for free recycling. Best Buy has a similar program, but there’s a small cost involved. We’ve had to learn how to wipe the hard drives— but I can’t clear my own memory, and each time I drive by Best Buy, I remember the smiley-face pancakes at the Aunt Sarah’s Pancake House that used to be there.
You can drop batteries in a box in UVA’s Alderman Library, and the antique store Circa will buy old furniture. I gave my collection of corks to a friend to take to the bin at West Main Market. Old wire coat hangers? They go to Rudy’s dry cleaners. We return our DVDs to Sneak Reviews (what a treasure– don't let it close!)
Old clothes and miscellaneous objects go to Goodwill, so we’ve made many trips to the store on Pantops, despite its dire parking situation. They say they will accept our ancient television, but we’re planning to watch it until the bitter end. It looks like neighbors might take the piano. And the Amvets truck will come pick up almost everything else, including our old barbecue grill. We’re still looking for a business that will take the grill’s propane tank and give us our deposit back.
That should help cover the $25 fee to the City for scheduling a large item pickup. But where to put so-called household hazardous waste? Unless it’s antifreeze or motor oil, there’s not much you can do with your leftover paint and scary-smelling liquids if the annual collection day at the Ivy landfill has come and gone. This year it was held in October, so we are out of luck. One friend has urged us to pile the stuff outside the County Office Building so the folks who make the rules can deal with it. In the meantime, my husband has been cooking on the Coleman camp stove to use up its gas canisters.
Surely there’s still time to get the dog groomed at Pampered Pets, because the loyalty card with its requisite number of stamps won’t do us any good in another town. Three orders of lamb kebobs with cilantro lime sauce from Sticks take care of another card, and one of those dinners is free.
At work there are keys to return, and a parking pass. My daughter needs to turn in her textbooks to the high school, along with her bright orange track uniform and the tablet computer that hasn’t worked since August.
Soon these tasks will be complete. The movers will pack up what’s left and drive away. We will have extricated ourselves from Charlottesville. But I hope we will always remain connected.
By the time you read this, longtime Charlottesvillian Lucy Sankey Russell will have begun settling down in Lawrence, Kansas.Read more on: household goods