My condominium is small. When I first looked at the place nearly 30 years ago, it seemed quite large. Well, it was empty when my real estate agent and I unlocked the door. I remember thinking, wow, all that closet space!
Of course, all the rooms, and the closets, are now full. As my cousin says, stuff expands to fit the space available, plus two boxes.
So, stuff. Too much stuff.
I’ve been cleaning my office as long as I’ve lived here. At least that’s what it feels like. I have a lifetime accumulation of books, paper, and assorted dustcatchers. Some of these have sentimental value, such as books that have been signed and personalized to me. As for the knick-knacks, they too have sentimental value. Then there are those files of newspaper clippings, saved because they that might possibly find their way into a book. They sometimes do. I once clipped a small article from the San Francisco Chronicle and kept it for several years, vowing that I would use it, some day. And I did. It wound up as an important plot point in Bit Player.
I’m such a paper magnet. Through the years I’ve written down story ideas and notes for plots. I still have all those pieces of paper. If I ever get writer’s block, I’ll know which file folders to mine for material.
These days, of course, I can copy the URL of a pertinent article and paste it into the work in progress.
I’ve rid myself of old bank statements and old contracts for books that are no longer in print. Making an effort not to keep anything past a year, unless it’s tax stuff.
Letters, remember those? Missives written before the advent of email? I save letters. The ones from my grandmother are tucked away in a folder, and they are important to me.
What do I save? And what do I throw away? That’s a question Jeri Howard asks in Bit Player, as she sorts through old letters written by her grandmother to solve a decades-old mystery.
Clothes? Since I retired from my day job some years ago, my wardrobe is decidedly casual. I start a donation box and when it gets full, I take it somewhere. Most recently, a local thrift shop. Books go to the Friends of the Library for their book sale.
However, getting rid of stuff is not a matter of opening a large garbage bag and sweeping the offending stuff into the bag. Clearing away clutter is a very personal thing. It involves decisions about what to keep and what to throw away. Sometimes the answer to that conundrum varies, depending on the mood I’m in at the time. Lately, the refrain of, “Maybe I’ll need this something,” is giving way to, “Why am I keeping this?” And that’s a good thing.
I’m not at the “Hoarder” stage yet but sometimes I wonder. At least I got a short story out of the subject. It’s a cautionary tale, called “Pack Rat.”