My ability to get rid of things goes back and forth.  One day will find me hoarding old stationary, pillows, and worn-out shirts like there’s no tomorrow.  The next, I’m furiously cleaning out my closet, or under the bed, or my sock drawer.  I’m filling bags with recycling and garbage and making money at garage sales.

Sometimes it seems right and good to hold onto things – old letters, for instance, should never be tossed in the trash.  I believe in the concept of handing things down from generation to generation, even if it’s my great-grandmother’s slightly ratty rocker.  I want things that last, not things that are disposable.  But things that can also be reinvented and stay fresh.  Someday I’ll reupholster it.  But it will still remind me of Laura Belle and the apartment she lived in until the day of her death.  Also of Max, a cat who loved the chair and generously bestowed his fur on it.  Some things hold too many memories to be gotten rid of lightly.

But the rest?  Beauty and usefulness only.  Preferably both.

I’ve lost a roommate, and gained a new one, and in the process the house gets taken apart and put back together.  It’s a good time to clean out that cupboard above the stove, or find a new place to keep tupperware, or line up foodstuffs in glass jars instead of messy bags.  To repaint and reconsider the art on my walls.  To clean out under the bathroom sink.  To find better ways of storing things (better than heaps on my bedroom floor).  To clear out and start afresh.  It’s addicting.  One morning, after painting till 11:30 the night before, I rolled off the couch (the fumes were too much in my room) and immediately set to work putting my room to rights.

It’s the putting back together that I really love.  I hate ends of eras, and seeing all of Kate’s things gone, I hate leaving places, but the starting over?  Bliss.

Now I’m off to get a free meal from my folks.
*Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art.” **

**EB now always reminds me simultaneously of reading her in a college course on “Travel and the American Literary Imagination” – “And have we room/ for one more folded sunset, still quite warm?” – and a story I once wrote in which a volume of her poetry figured quite prominently.