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.

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Loved this: "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."

Wonderful piece - thoughtful, well written, full of emotion as well as useful information for the rest of us. What a nice Christmas gift!

"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Charlottesville anymore . . . "

Thanks for the piece -- best of luck in your new state!

Thanks! Loved the way you wrote this piece as both memoir and informational article. All these ideas will help me as I unload my basement and 2-car garage after 15 years of blissfully filling them. One more idea; Habitat for Humanity accepts building supplies (new/unused wood, new/used windows and doors, bathroom fixtures, large appliances, paint, hardware, etc.). They also take furniture sometimes.

If you're still paying taxes or a private trash collection company, just put the light bulbs and fluids in a dark trash bag and hide them in the middle of your trash can. It won't be detected at all. So...who cares if there's a little runoff at the landfill?
Cute column, though. Crystallizes the whole sustainability-obsessed elitist mindset of this area; especially loved the line about lamb kabobs. I was just talking to someone who paints houses for a living about the awesome lamb kabobs with cilantro lime sauce they serve at Sticks. They're what every working class stiff from this area eats on a regular basis, but my working class painter friend fancies mint on his lamb.
Good luck in Lawrence. You might not be too happy though; it is a tad more moderate than Charlottesville.

R.I.P. Pete Ham

So can anyone tell me of any specific locations in the Hook area where I can drop off old eyeglasses?I checked the Lions Club website:no help.Before I throw 'em away.......

Liberalace -3 for solvent in the aquifer. +5 for the Pete Ham tribute.

Since they like jerkwater provincial towns so much, why not just stay here instead of going to all that trouble....

BL- I leave my old glasses in the lion's collection bucket at the Barracks Rd Vision Works.

Paint - fill half of a container with paint and then fill the rest with a concrete or cement mix...after it hardens, ivy will accept it

Hey Liberalace:

She will likely find the folks in Lawrence refreshingly down to earth after C'ville and thus be quite happy. As far as tad more moderate environs, I came here from San Francisco, and C'ville to me is like the Eisenhower administration after the Clinton Administration.

Have a great trip!!! Lawrence... ouch..... see you back here in a couple years!!

Buzzbomb: What is it with all these C'ville people who impart the 'tood to Lucy that she's going to lesser or even dreadful place and will surely long for or return to C'ville? Guess what? There are people-of all ages--who get to the point of being done with C'ville. Either wish her well or keep it to yourself, particularly on Xmas.

Have you been to Lawrence, Kansas? I have. Yikes.

Like C-ville,Lawrence is a college town-University of Kansas, so imagine some similarities.
I think of Lawrence , Kansas, I think of it as the place where much of the activity of the "Bleeding Kansas"period of the 1850s occurred, a time when proslavery and antislavery settlers waged their own civil war. And during the war, played a part in the bloody guerrilla war in Kansas and Missouri where atrocities against civilians occurred on both sides.
Here in Virginia we tend to often glorify Confederate fighters. However, the likes of William Clarke Quauntrill and "Bloody Bill " Anderson were not like the Virginia gentleman, UVa Law grad John Singleton Mosby who operated in the area I now live.
Incidentally when I was a kid there was a cool TV program called "the Gray Ghost" that featured the adventures of Mosby.Don't think we'd see Hollywood do a TV show now with a Confederate leader as hero. Can imagine what some of the present City Council would think!

Useful info. If you go walking around me (Moore's creek) and look up at southern Belmont. It looks like people formally (hopefully the 1950s and no time recently) pushed their old washing machines and lawn mowers off the top of the cliff/hill above me when they didn't want them.

Inspiring! On a quiet day off I'd set aside for cleaning and decluttering, what a perfect essay to happen upon online during my lunch break. I'll think of you and yours as I pack up our stuff for the trek to McIntire recycling center and Salvation Army.

...or you could have called 1800GOTJUNK and had them do all that running around!!