08/04/2011 09:41 pm ET Updated Oct 04, 2011

Pardon My French: Our Heroine Sells Her Old Life

How do you pack up your life in a month? I'd heard about people picking up and moving and it all sounded so exhilarating; so quick and clean.

I made the decision to move to France, quit my job and found renters. The big things posed little problem. It was the little stuff that proved hard to handle.

I have a lot of stuff, about a decade worth of carefully curated dishes, clothes, furniture, shoes and more shoes.

My apartment was so full of stuff I didn't know where to start cutting. What was to become of my ice buckets with penguins dancing or my multiplying collection of creamers in all shapes and colors and sizes, or even my Pyrex bowls?

I kept having little pangs of despair. Thoughts like, "I can't give up that gorgeous little white creamer," pop into my head and for a second at least I am convinced I can't go, I can't be separated from some adorable little dish, or expertly molded bentwood chair.

I decided to have a moving sale right away before I lost my nerve.

I lined up 40 pairs of size 6.5 shoes, a series of retro tea sets, a Cuisinart, spring form cake pans and endless summer dresses, winter coats, and handbags. The more cupboards and closets I opened, the bigger the piles of things to sell became.

Starting bright and early at 9 a.m. the scavengers I'd summoned over email and on message boards arrived at my apartment, began perusing my possessions then carting them away.

As the day wore on, I watched a cross-section of D.C. traipse through my door, inspect my wine glasses, rummage though my books and clatter my baking pans. By 6 p.m. I'd made $1300 could take no more. I called it quits.

What remained, I donated in order to be charitable and to quickly end the sentimental portion of the packing process.

My new mantra: Stuff is the enemy. The more stuff, the harder it is to go anywhere. Each cast iron pan, book, and mug, is another liliputian string tying me down.

My romantic vision of flitting off to Nice with nothing but a stylish carry on has been shattered and I've realized it is going to get worse before it gets meilleure.

Sign up for our email.
Find out how much you really know about the state of the nation.