Big decisions on small things
I’ve been moving. Not across the country or across the state or out of Edmonds – which I cannot imagine doing. Why would anyone move out of Edmonds? But I’ve moved to a different condo.
The hardest thing about moving for me, is the sifting through the detritus of years, trying to talk myself into letting go of the odds and ends that clutter my life, siphon away my energy and require way too much upkeep.
It’s a given that I am sentimental about too many things and sometimes behave as if the objects I own (or, one might conjecture, the objects I am owned by?) actually have feelings, which will be wounded if I tuck them gently into a DONATE box.
Bette Midler said something to the effect that at some point one’s possessions have to go out and make their own way in the world. Wasn’t that a healthy perspective?
So, yes, I kept a DONATE box nearby as I sifted. And I did put my son’s size three Austrian wool blazer into the donations box. It was cute in Innsbruck 40-some years ago, but it just wasn’t right for my grandson Adam, who prefers REI to Lodencloth.
And I chucked almost every torn-out recipe without allowing myself to read it. Oh, I’d finish a box and think, there, I never want to do THAT again. And then I’d remove the next lid and start over.
Really, I was pretty sure 95 percent of the contents were worthless. How many years need a person keep theatre stubs from Phantom of the Opera, old bills stamped PAID, ballerina tree ornaments with one leg snapped off, entire issues of magazines with one amazing article about How to Become a Writer and Sell Your Work? I should have carried those boxes out and and emptied them directly into recycle.
No, wait. I was sure 95 percent of the contents lacked value. What about the other five percent? Probably, something really important lurked inside each box. I am reminded of a TV commercial where the guy assures his friends that he is 99.9 percent sure of something. His friend, as I recall, shrugs and says, “Well, if you don’t know, you don’t know.”
I should have labeled the boxes Unknown Quantities, for all the good my labels did. One torn sticky note – presumably still stuck on the right box, but who knows? – said, “Sort by October.”
Riffling through the top layers of the box, I could not figure out which October that meant.
And when did I arbitrarily label that box? Some long ago spring, when I had a flash of organizational inspiration but didn’t want to waste March sunshine as it melted the frost on a purple crocus? Or August when there was a minus tide to splash in?
Oh, I came up with more questions than answers as I sorted boxes. Mostly, I found comfort in thinking that moving is difficult for almost anyone. So I kept sorting. And finally I moved.