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What it feels like to pack up a decade of my life
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I’m having a lazy morning in bed, writing to you, surrounded by chaos. Three suitcases lay open near my bedside, piled with clothes. Empty boxes are scattered around. Holes litter the walls where I’ve removed art prints and nails. A single bee is buzzing around my room.
I spent eight hours yesterday sorting through my possessions. I have so many possessions. I’m donating hundreds of books and pieces of clothing and all of my furniture—yet I still have so much stuff. I’ve got eight boxes packed up so far, and I think I’ll have 12 when I’m done. (To be fair, they’re smaller than normal packing boxes since I’ve been gathering them from neighbors.) And I’ll be flying to Las Vegas with two checked bags, a carryon and Minerva. I suppose this is what a decade of capitalism looks like.
Before I started packing, I reread The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up to reacquaint myself with the KonMari method, which directs you to only keep things in your life which bring you joy. Before you begin to clean, author Marie Kondo asks you to think about why you are tidying, and what your ideal lifestyle would physically look like. She asks us to live with intention, a practice I’ve been deeply cultivating over the last year. I think the book helped me a lot—in most cases I’ve been able to tell if something brings me joy immediately. If not, I’ve thanked it for its service and put it in the donation pile. A soft coral T-shirt I’ve had for years that reads “Fucking New York City” hit the pile with love. So did a turquoise sweater with pearl buttons that belonged to my late grandmother.
I’ve also found joy in gifting my friends items I’ve selected just for them. My friend David took home my copy of Priestdaddy (one of my favorite books of the last few years) and a black silk robe coat from Reformation, which I imagine he’ll cart with him to winter’s Bushwick sex parties. Stephen gingerly carried one of my favorite houseplants to his car, a pink nerve plant in a bright cerulean pot. Maddy is getting a few pairs of barely-used heels, a Marc Jacobs dress, and my copy of And Now We Have Everything.
The other wonderful part of the process has been going through old letters and cards. I thought letter-writing was a relatively new practice in my life, but I realized I’ve been sending cards and postcards for most of my adult life. And I’ve received (and saved) some incredible ones in return: so many birthday wishes, a long letter from my mother detailing my birth, postcards from London and Mexico, thank you cards describing the mark I’ve made in friends’ lives. I am so lucky and grateful.
A lot of people have been asking me how I’m feeling with the move looming. Mostly, I feel great about it. I’m certain it’s the right thing for me. It feels good to be moving toward a goal for once, even if it’s a lot of work—and the work itself feels good too. Getting rid of so much stuff has made me feel lighter. And experiencing New York in this quarantine summer has stripped away so many of the superfluous things that would normally keep me busy—press activities, parties I’m only sort of interested in attending, lunch with acquaintances. Instead, I’ve been spending all of my time outside with people I really love.
So far, the majority of my mourning has centered around my many houseplants—which I have watched wilt, rebound and flourish with tender dedication—and Prospect Park. This park has guided me through so many tears and celebrations over the past four years I’ve lived in Prospect Lefferts Gardens. It’s given me a path to walk when I had no idea where to go or what to do. It knows me intimately; I’ve whispered secrets to it that no human will ever hear. It is the fifth character in my Sex and the City. I will miss it fiercely.
Unusually, the swans I obsessively follow haven’t yet had their babies this year. I’ve got ten days left to spot them. I hope I do.
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