I have too many things. Each time I move I realize this, and each time I settle, the things move right back in. Because I am doomed to rent all my life and seem to be in the habit of changing homes every so often, I really can’t have too many things. If I have them, they have to go where I go, and if they can’t, why have them?
And yet I do. And I don’t mean things like furniture because that lesson I’ve learned. The couch that fits comfortably in a corner of one apartment might occupy half the floor area of another, and only if it makes its way through the tinier doorway. The divan, if persistently held on to, demands an apartment with a spare room. Things on which to eat, sit, and sleep I’ve learned to keep uncomplicated enough to survive relocation, or at least to make parting with them less than difficult. At this point, my non-negotiables are down to a floor lamp, a baul from my mom, and a bench from my dad (and okay, maybe my shelves).
It’s the little things that add up and weigh heavy, things I accumulate at a speed with which my space can’t keep up. I’ve gone easy on the bric-a-brac, no longer actively adding to my small and shamelessly girly collections of teapots, snuff boxes, kokeshi, and matryoshka dolls. (I used to collect Christmas ornaments too, but I lost most of them one day when my overweight cat, in a classic wtf moment, pounced on the tree which then fell to the floor, breaking the ornaments.) All of my twenties I’ve managed to sum up and stash in the trusty baul—mostly photographs when having photos developed was still the thing to do, tucked away neatly in photo albums as my chummier, younger version was wont to do. My book collection, though, is another matter; I know I’ve tried to pace and space my book purchases, and I do have quite a number of books that aren’t mine (aside from recommendation letter writer and cat poop harvester, I count booksitter as one of my satellite occupations), and while I love the company of the multiple and multiplying stacks of books—on the floor, by the shelves, by the bed, on the bed—it is admittedly becoming harder and harder to get work done or relax when I have to mouse my way through the haphazard and shape-shifting obstacle course that my room has become. Add to the books all sorts of paper acquired through the years—magazines I enjoyed reading and can’t quite bear to toss, bank statements filed in folders back when I was smarter with money, letters and datebooks and notebooks and loose sheets of notes, postcards and stationery, unclaimed bluebooks and exams and student papers, flyers and posters and tickets and other such souvenirs.
My solution thus far is to delude myself via the equitable distribution of clutter: when I have more than I can handle in the apartment, I relocate some things to the office, and when the office starts feeling like a bodega, I pack up a few things and transport to my parents’ house. And so it goes. The more sensible thing to do, of course, is sort, dispose, and give away. But as with many things, it’s far easier to go delusional than sensible.