The Imagined Life: The Clearing Out

Some things are better done like a bandaid, and some need to be handled in fits and starts. I roamed often from one end of the apartment to the next, sometimes getting a breath of business-like motivation. Ripping through a drawer or desk with emotionless precision. Sort, trash, pack, sell. Other times I lingered for hours over one or two items, paralyzed with indecision over an item I know will just take up valuable space without being useful in the end, but I can't quite make the choice to give it up. 

I create a special box just for these items, separate from the real memory pieces and heirlooms, to be marked in bright red: Expiration Date! After 2 years - I tell myself - if I haven't felt the need to take any of these items from the box, then it goes to charity - no opening for one last look!

The dresser is packed away now (a beautiful piece I carefully wrap it for storage) and half the clothes from it are just gone - given away or sold to a second hand store; some donated to women's shelters. The clothes were definitely a longer project. I wore everything, over the course of a few months, no repeats until everything had been given its fair shot. Did it fit right? Was it comfortable? Does it work with me now? Will I reach for this garment again and again? If the answer was no, then it was cut. Ruthlessly.

When I was done I still had too many clothes, but at least the overflow was reasonable. I measured my space and started sorting. My very favorite items came with me, ready to be worn and loved to death. The rest was carefully packed and prepared for storage - to be pulled out one at a time - as current items needed to be replaced. A happy compromise.

The piles of photos are harder. There's my grandmother smiling up at me making me feel young; a younger version of myself laughing making me feel old. There's people lost and places refound. But most of those I find a way to release as well. Passing them to friends and family, scanning many to be brought with me on a hard drive that holds more of my life and past then a million boxes could.

It was odd looking around after all the sorting and clearing was done. The place was so empty. White, bare wall. One large pile of boxes ready for storage, one pile of items ready to be moved into the new abode.

I was ready.


The Imagined Life is fiction, a world of my own creation, explored through small, everyday things and experiences.

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