I caught a glimpse of myself almost as soon as I left the house. Aslant in a reflective window.
But it was too late to turn back. And I was too tired.
I had pulled the skirt from a bag of items I took to Brooklyn on an afternoon in early September.There was a woman there I liked. A wizard with a needle and thread. She transformed clothes that no longer fit, or never did, into something my mother would approve of.
I arrived to find the shop shuttered. So I turned on my heel and toted the bag back to New York.
Everything I own is in bags. Plastic bags. Bags of books and bags of shoes and and bags of important documents that my father tells me I must not get rid of.
There is the bag of clothes for Goodwill. And the bag of electronics that I have yet to recycle.
And then there is everything else. There is no rhyme or reason to any of these bags. After four months, whatever pattern first existed has long since been abandoned.
Order giving way to just-getting-by.
I am thinking that after today this skirt will go into the Goodwill bag.
I’m getting to be ruthless about what must be given away.
I bought myself a small, black purse a few weeks ago and have decided it will be the only purse I own until I am the sort of woman for whom men buy expensive bags. I am not holding my breath.
I am trying to remember that objects are not memories. That I don’t need one to have the other.
I am leaving my apartment. Moving out. The lease has, by some not-so-small-miracle, been broken.Or dissolved. Done away with. By landlord and tenants, all. Amicably. Or, well, as amicably as thing can be when two people who were once friends no longer are.
It happened two weeks ago. I was only told yesterday.
Until yesterday it was simply a wonderful game of make believe. If I could leave tomorrow, what would I get rid of? The chest of drawers, my bed, the small side table? That trunk there. And books--which may well be the hardest to abandon, but how heavy they prove in transit.
There will come a time when I will collect these things again. But settled will have a new working definition.
So let me never again take a ferry to an Ikea in Brooklyn to outfit the whole of my apartment. This is my new prayer. It is small and not terribly pressing, but it is nonetheless true.
Less is the new working mantra. And so I am reorganizing bags and jettisoning furniture.
Finally with an appreciation for that word, jettison. To jettison. To dump, drop, throw out, unload, throw overboard.
It is a sinking ship. And I am throwing things overboard.
When I was twenty-four I visited Australia for the second time. Stayed with a friend and his girlfriend in a single story home. The girl had just moved in. Done it in a day. Never again do I want so much stuff, she said. I think of those words now.
And that house. That perfect, eclectic, deliciously imperfect home. With a coffee shop across the street, a park on the corner, and a backyard in which they hung their clothes to dry.
I want less. Bed bugs will do that to a girl. And age, age too, I think.
At dinner on Saturday night, Julie remarked that I have strong Walden tendencies. She is right. Of course, she is right. And the question of why I am in New York grows ever more voluble. The thing is, my Thoreau inclinations have grow in in direct proportion to the time I’ve spent here. Ten years. Ten years of an unrelenting, unforgiving, terribly crowded tangle of streets.
Too many people, not enough trees.
Walden is a new watchword. A place I am in search of. Admittedly, not totally sure as to what it is or where to look.
Soon I’ll tell the story of these last few months. Of how seventeen bed bug bites led to a silent apartment and a pink cup placed front of the cupboard. And I’ll look for clues in my own words. I'll search for warning signs in my own skewed memory of the thing. And I think, when I see the story written down, I’ll be able to say this: no one can be charming all the time. And if, outside the home, one always is, beware what goes on within it.
I’ll say that I was motivated by fear and what’s done in fear must be undone. The universe has a beautiful way of dismantling such things.
And now it is done.
And the pretending is over.
For me, more than anyone.