Selling the books,, it turned out, wasn’t that bad. My cousin came over and took me to Half Price Books, which took them and gave me some money and that was that. We went to Trader Joe’s while they were pricing everything and then went out to Ethiopian food for dinner. I really was struggling there for a while but it was pretty painless after all.

By the time we were driving away from the bookstore I was thinking about the lucky people who are going to go to that bookstore one day and find my books. Maybe on a rainy Thursday some girl with glasses and an Emily The Strange messenger bag will be all thrilled to find my Tale Of Genji. Maybe some lonely geek dude will find my collected Roald Dahl and read it on the bus and laugh and then call a friend to tell him about it and then they’ll go out for pizza together and he won’t feel so lonely. Maybe an exhausted mom who has just returned from maternity leave will go there on her lunch break, just to get out of the office, and will find my Guide To The New Girl Order and flip through it and smile when she thinks about where she was ten years ago when that came out and how everything has changed; maybe it will be half off and she’ll pop it in her bag and read it as she nurses the baby when she gets home tonight. It’s nice to think about my time with those books and to think about their new homes. I like to think of them fitting into a strange new bookshelf and eventually becoming part of a completely new private landscape–almost as much as I like thinking of all the new books that are in my own future, about bookshelves I haven’t even seen yet.

So I was already feeling much lighter about the whole thing–the whole thing being “getting rid of all the stuff I have been storing in various places since July of 2006–by the time I settled in for a couple of hours in David’s garage, just going through stuff and filling up garbage bags and wondering why I still had certain things that I’d actually shipped to California from Miami in 1993 when I went away to college. Like, why did I see fit to keep, for fifteen years, a little box of cards with my full name engraved on them from my high school graduation announcement? Why did I have a huge bag full of polarfleece scraps from the time I attempted to sew my own fuzzy jacket? Why did I have a small box full to the brim with plastic lizards, snakes, and frogs?

I put lots of old t-shirts into the Give Away bin, and wondered how I’m going to ship the set of original FiestaWare back to my sister in Florida. I put some blankets in David’s guest bedroom because you can always use another blanket in a guest bedroom. I laughed over how frumpy I was in social work school, according to those last non-digital pictures taken in the early aughties that I have apparently just been keeping in a plastic box for all these years.

Strange, though, to be surrounded by all that stuff, neatly boxed and labeled back when I thought I would come right back to my blender and my orange sheets and my Threadless t-shirts that no longer fit. I remember doing a huge purge before I left, as you do when you move, but it’s interesting to see what I kept, what I thought I’d want when I got back. Some things, like my paper crown that used to hang over my bed or the beautiful dress I wore for my thirtieth birthday, I can totally see why I kept, but so much of it didn’t seem to have to do anything with me anymore. I kept thinking “Where did this sweater come from?” and “I have a blender?” It’s not just that some of the clothes aren’t in style any more or that I don’t need a Japanese tea set at this juncture in my career– it’s that I could hardly recognize so many of the things I’d so carefully boxed up. It’s easier to imagine them all in their new places, just like the books, than it is to imagine them as part of my new place.

It’s freeing, I guess, letting these (still perfectly lovely!) things go. It doesn’t hurt to say goodbye the way it once did. I guess it’s because I’ve had so much practice since the day I put those boxes in my cousin’s garage–I’m getting better at letting the insignificant (but still very nice!) things fall to the wayside of my life.


  1. Why did I have a small box full to the brim with plastic lizards, snakes, and frogs?

    Um, duh? Of course you would have this!

  2. I am in the process of moving also. I am moving across the Tasmin, so there needs to be A LOT of downsizing. It is really strange the things you think are important to you, only years later to be thrown out.

    Its great to have a clean out. You feel so much better afterwards!

  3. I can totally relate … I think this will be my biggest purge yet and it’s going to feel good … but weird.

  4. I’ve been doing that in preparation for the construction but it takes so long I had to just finally say “fuck it!” and start chucking stuff in boxes just so it would be out of the way when things got started. But I will probably start purging again once I get back from Japan and California, because when I move back into those rooms, I only want them to have things I really love/want/need and not just random stuff.