Saying goodbye to the blue Mixie dress I wore so often, so classic. To the tan wedges I don’t love as much as the other wedges I bought later. To the plaid wool pants i bought at Goodwill and to the Jackie O style blazer I always thought I’d wear and didn’t. Goodbye to those trouser jeans, to lace thongs, to the nightgown I wore after surgery. To the mauve cashmere sweater my mom gave me and the gray sheath dress and the long silk sweater in a bright blue that was never me. It is a luxury to ask, “Does it spark joy?” The virtue, I think, is in making do, making the best of what you have. My friend L and I discussed this when she came over to peruse what I was giving away. She walked out with some goodies — the green cross-body bag, the red one I carried when I drove across the country, a black cardigan with a shawl collar. I’ve set aside a few other piles for others. I can’t go back and un-buy the things I bought, un-accept the gifts I accepted, un-do the accumulation that accumulated. But it sparked joy to see L grab a few fine things, and it sparks joy to imagine the Jackie O blazer being enjoyed by someone else who will find it just the thing. From here on out I will ask “Does it spark joy?” before bringing something new in. And I’ll carry these six bags to the car, then to Goodwill, and send them off to find new homes. Then I’ll pause to appreciate the space I have made, space the cat has claimed already for himself.
March 22, 2015
One thing Marie Kondo doesn’t prepare you for is the physlcal labor of “tidying.” After spending Friday afternoon piling and sorting and bagging and folding, I collapsed into bed at 1:15 am — me, who likes to get under the covers around 10:00 – and woke achey and tired and still surrounded by little bits and pieces of my overstuffed life. It should be work, this revisiting the past and its loves and mistakes and memories. This act of letting go, and letting go again. The reverence for what truly belongs. I folded. Smoothed. Hanged. Arranged. Replaced. And finally, completed.
March 21, 2015
There was a time, not that many years ago, when I basically had one decent pair of shoes. They were great shoes — red Dansko clogs, pretty much my favorite shoes ever. I wore them with everything from jeans to skirts to work trousers. I loved them as much when they didn’t match my outfit as when I did, and I even wore them backpacking across the Yucatan, on beaches and tiny villages. I thought of those shoes — long since fallen apart and given away — after I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. In the years since I lived in them, things have changed. I’m not broke anymore. My job has required different clothes than the ones before it. I’ve started acquiring, and shoes are something I’ve acquired. But I want my life to be simpler, more peaceful, and on Friday I began a KonMari-style clearout. Every article of clothing came out of the closets and dressers and laundry baskets and landed on the bed. It was shocking. Embarrassing. Enough to make me crumple. But I started sorting. “Does it spark joy?” Kondo tells you to ask of each item. Many things don’t. Not the dresses I once adored that are now tight across the middle, not the t-shirt that belonged to my ex-husband back when he was my high school boyfriend and we would make out in the movie theater, not the running shoes that never quite fit, Some things do. They have the spirit of the old red clogs in them. They remain.
March 20, 2015
We miss our neighbor J, who loved this house with its overgrown wisteria. Since he left, the house has sat vacant, and we’ve watched to see what happens to it while big new homes sprout up and down the street. I clipped a few of these sprays of purple and set them spilling from a wine glass on the kitchen table. And then I returned to the porch, where I’ve cleared old firewood and dead plants, hung a basket of red flowers, painted the door, set out new chairs. It was in this space–uncluttered, freshly clean, occupied only by things alive and cherished–that I could relax. I read the New Yorker until C arrived home. And space is what’s on my mind these days, after reading Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up. I’d started clearing the clutter before I’d heard of the book. Front porch. Back porch. Deck I cleaned and vacuumed and set right last Saturday. And now I’m ready to take on what’s next, KonMari style. Clothes. Then books. Then the rest of it. Because I want space. Space to read and write and rest, to be part of a family and a marriage and a community, to practice reverence for the present and envision the future. Space. Not the empty space of J’s old house, which so deserves happy owners who love it. Just this space, our own, enlivened by what “sparks joy.”
March 19, 2015