Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My Totally Righteous Crap

Last night I helped Brian move into his new apartment... AT 10:30 PM... which would've been really bad had it not been the easiest move in the history of all easy moves. He asked me the other day if I had a lot of stuff when I moved to Chicago, to which I replied no, but when I saw his Chevy Astrovan not even 3/4ths of the way full, I knew that I was both a packrat and a liar.

We finished up sometime around 11:30 and then headed over to the bodega around the corner from his house for some sundries. It was at this point that I was longing to seriously downsize my possessions and also to move to some place like Logan Square where you can actually find a bodega right around the corner. I think I've gotten better about not holding on to the past with each move I've made - so far three in Chicago alone - and that means getting rid of useless crap that I'll never look at/want in a million years. Don't get me wrong, it was really nice to have the majority of the necessities for living when I first moved to Chicago, but I definitely had too much. When Bonnie and I moved out of our childhood home, we basically split up all of our parents' possessions 50/50. Granted, she took a few more items since she was living in her own apartment, but all the photographs, and clothes, and school papers, and report cards, and papers/receipts for days were divided up between us and I eventually trucked my share some 2,000 miles to Chicago.

I'd say that Bonnie has always been the more sentimental of the two of us, but oddly enough it was me that unwilling to part with most of my mom's things after she died. Especially her clothes. Chalk it up to being a homo or whatever, but I just didn't think we should be getting rid of something that was, to me, so definitively a part of my mom. Also, they smelled like her, at least at first, and that was an enormous comfort. Bonnie humored me and for the time being, let the clothes stay.

If only I could keep my desk looking like this.

Cut to a couple of years later and I'm visiting from Chicago or something and Bonnie's forcing me to go through the stuff that obviously needs to be thrown out and/or given away. The clothes no longer smell like mom or home or any variation thereof. They now smell like some amalgamation of dust and depression and holding on to the past. I still have one of my mother's cardigans that she used to wear all the time when it got cold around the house - finally, the truth comes out about why I love cardigans so GD much! - but everything else went to Goodwill. The papers, I will say, were really easy to get rid of. Mom was nothing if not meticulous about keeping receipts from every transaction she ever completed between 1970 and 2000. I, however, do not share the same predilection for inventory since I am wont to refuse receipts forced upon me by cashiers the world over. This is also why I did not get the VAT refund when I visited Europe.

Then, about five or six years ago I saw this episode of MTV's Cribs - back when it didn't only feature rappers showing off their gold-plated latrines - featuring this music video director who used to do a lot of work for Christina Aguillera and the like. The guy was ridiculously wealthy by music video director standards, but when you saw his house there was virtually nothing in it and it wasn't just some Apartment Therapy style slight of hand where a bed converted into a stove top, and a desk also doubled as a shower/urinal... buddy literally had like next to no items in his house. I was in awe when I saw that place, even though I don't think I could ever live like that, but it did make me realize that I'd like to simplify things a little bit.

So at the end of the day I know I don't need that t-shirt in three different colors, or that cumbersome salad spinner that I'm never going to use. I like books, but are ones that I only love moderately worthy of taking up all my psychic and physical space? If I ever have children, may I never burden them with a lifetime of emotionally-loaded crap that they feel guilty about throwing out... if I ever have children, may the only thing they struggle with is whether to sell or keep my totally righteous collection of fine art prints... but hopefully they'll be real art pieces by the time I manage to spawn.

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