Last November, I bought a building to use as a studio and residence. It is 100 yrs old, 2254 sq. ft., half commercial space, and half 2-bedroom apartment. The owner suffered health problems and her family had been trying to sell the property for 2 years. One of her sons was staying in the apartment until the building sold and moved out two weeks after closing. When I took possession of the building, I was at first irritated and later amused to discover the items he left behind for me to clean up. I was taught to leave a residence cleaner or at least as clean as you found it: at minimum taking out your own trash. Clearly, this man had not been taught the same values.
The apartment was strewn with full garbage cans, stacks of old newspapers, various trinkets, clothes, books, tools, hand crafted linens, and more. As I began to collect the literal piles of garbage and other items, I became inspired to make pictures before throwing them away myself. After all, who would believe that I found two jars of grease (with an empty one for me to fill…) under the kitchen sink? An un-emptied fridge with half- consumed food? And the old beat up shoes covered with grass apparently used to mow the lawn. I also found treasures that were left behind: trinkets, gifts made to loved ones on holidays, hand-made gifts, personal effects. Many items reminded me of things I would find in my Grandmothers' or great Aunts' homes. I have several hand crocheted doilies made by my Great Aunts much like the ones left here. As I cleaned out closets, I began to form a picture of the woman who lived here, and of her son who left behind these items he deemed unworthy of taking along, unworthy even of proper disposal.
The basement contained a few pieces of furniture I did invite to be left behind: and so they were, as well as all the stuff that had been stored in them. One set of shelves held carefully stored decorations for nearly all the yearly holidays. A large chest of drawers held other personal remnants: such as map collections saved in individual AAA bags were evidence of travel plans, and hand created gifts. In the garage I found literal barrels full of trash to heavy for even Toledo to pick up. I had to empty the barrels into smaller containers to discover what was so heavy: an engine! I have to admit: I did get a few useful items out of the deal: a complete socket wrench kit for one. The family had two years to deal with their mother's personal belongings: to give away, sell, donate, take to here new residence, or remove. The son lived in her apartment anticipating a move yet still left his own and his Mothers unwanted stuff for me to deal with.