Ian Usher is selling his life. This is not to be confused with selling his soul or selling his vital organs or anything like that; he simply wants to get rid of everything he's thus far accumulated, including his house, his job, his furnishings.

Usher is an Englishman, forty-five years old, who relocated to Western Australia with his wife in 2001. He picks up the question of why here:

I now live alone in a house that was being built for us to live in together. I still have all of our furniture that we bought together in our previous home. I still have the car we owned. I am still surrounded by all the memorabilia of our years together.

And despite my life being busy and fulfilled, I still miss my wife so much. Everything in my home is a reminder of the wonderful past we shared.

So, after a year in this house I decided that it is time to sell it and move on. But what do I do with all of the furniture and other things I have here? I could sell it all one thing at a time in the local newspaper. I could send it all to auction. I could offer it to friends. I could put it all in storage.

But any option I can think of seems too time-consuming and emotionally draining, or doesn't fully address the issue.

And so Everything Must Go. If you can qualify, you can even have his job in a Perth rug shop, though you probably won't make enough to keep up with a mortgage on the house.

Almost exactly twenty years ago, I did something not quite so drastic: I stored some stuff at friends' homes, threw everything else away, and drove to the very end of the earth well, to the end of the continent, anyway. (At least one of the motivations was the same: my marriage had long since unraveled, and the divorce had become final.) And I liked Los Angeles: it was a bit scary, but everything exciting has at least some element of fear to it, and the weather was utterly different from what I'd gotten used to in Oklahoma during the preceding thirteen years.

But things started to go to pieces almost at once: jobs I thought I'd nailed down suddenly evaporated; my stash of cash was depleted more quickly than I'd anticipated; and the sense of "You don't belong here," in the midst of people mostly, I thought, far wealthier and far more attractive, quickly became overwhelming.

Then there was this:

In fact, once I decided, rather rashly, that waiting around for this mortal coil to shuffle off by itself wasn't worth the bother, and that it would be in my best interests to speed up the process considerably. This decision left me with a punchline ("I called up the Suicide Hotline; they put me on hold"), which was marginally amusing, and an extended stay in the Home for the Bewildered, which definitely wasn't.

I spent the next two years trying to put things back together, and fifteen more trying to make sense of them. Even today I still have unresolved issues. And I have far more stuff than I used to.

Still, I think Ian Usher will come out of his Massive Life Upheaval far better than I did mine. For one thing, he'll have more disposable income at first: the eBay auction for all his worldly goods should bring in six, maybe seven figures in Australian dollars (each of which is worth, at the moment, a bit over 90 cents US), easily twenty times what I had to work with. For another, he's apparently not depressed about it:

I am not trying to sell you a sob story. I appreciate that many people have had to cope with much more than I have, and have had much more sadness in their lives. This is just my way of dealing with what has happened to me.

And, perhaps most important, he's making a cleaner break of it:

Upon completion and settlement I will walk out of my home for the last time in just the clothes I am wearing, and carrying only my wallet and passport.

My current thoughts are to then head to the airport, and ask at the flight desk where the next flight with an available seat goes to, and to get on that and see where life takes me from there!

This is, or at least damned well should be, the stuff of legend.

The Vent

  1 April 2008

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 Copyright © 2008 by Charles G. Hill