As promised, an update on the Konmari experiment.
So far, I have tackled Christmas. Here’s what I learned:
- It took almost no effort to reduce my bins from 4 to 2.
- I had a lot of glitter detritus.
- Several items were kept in the dark recesses of the Christmas bins out of sheer obligation and will hopefully be moving along to someone else’s home. Someone who truly enjoys them.
- I was pleasantly surprised to unearth some items I never typically get to and look forward to next year when I will use them, including the Spode dishes from hubs’ grandmother.
- An unexpected realization: I have kept certain items in those boxes for fear of forgetting.
About that last one: a related story.
There was a ziploc bag full of Christmas potpourri. Really good smelling stuff. Quality. How do I know? It still smelled wonderfully after being in there for the past TWENTY YEARS.
Yes. I had kept potpourri for twenty years. Was it magical potpourri, you ask? Well, kind of.
I bought that bag of potpourri one Christmas season at Kaufmann’s. I wonder if Kaufmann’s still exists? It was the same as Hechts, so probably not. Perhaps it’s now a Macy’s. Anyway. I remember buying that bag of potpourri, which, at the time was such a ridiculous expenditure. I was in college, and I didn’t even have the money for pizza and alcohol, so why was I blowing it on potpourri? (Technically, I wasn’t – I think I charged it. Which, that’s an entirely different story for another day. Suffice it to say, that bag of potpourri probably ended up costing me fifty bucks with interest!)
It was an impulse buy, no doubt. My roommate, Libby, and I were avoiding studying and wandering around the sad shopping center known as Fort Steuben Mall, when I caught the intoxicating scent of cinnamon. So I grabbed the smallest available bag, swiped my card, and brought it back to our tiny apartment.
I only needed about a handful of the stuff in a glass dish in order to permeate the whole of our apartment. Along with our little tree in the window, Seamus the spruce, we had ourselves a festive gathering place. I remember holing up there with a smattering of friends, staying up way past respectable bedtime, running outside in the snow together, and then warming up with spiked hot chocolate while we eventually got down to the task of studying. Even though we lived in a mining town, the stench of which is regionally famous, the thick snow blanket seemed to erase the sulfuric intensity in a blessed and rare respite.
At some point, we would all fall asleep, scattered around the apartment in sleeping bags or under blankets on the couch, and I would get up each morning before everyone else and start a pot of coffee while everyone else would slowly stir to consciousness, squinting as the sunlight reflected off the snow and through the picture window behind the Christmas tree.
Those were magical days. None of us knew the future, of course. Quite frankly, had anyone predicted that two of would be dead less than five years later, we would have all laughed at the absurdity of such a suggestion. We were merely playing at adulthood – no one had any intentions of growing up that quickly. Of course, we did just that, first when Libby and Nate had their two babies, the joy of growing up, and then even moreso when death claimed them within a year of one another.
But each time I opened my Christmas decorations, that cinnamon smell escaped and I relived that memory. Which is why I have kept such a silly thing for two decades. I realized, however, that I don’t need a ziploc of potpourri for that. (Earth-shattering, I know!) It just took me a while longer to figure out that we do not owe our memories and experiences to objects. I don’t need mashed up bits of pine cones and cinnamon sticks to transport me to that crackerbox apartment. Or a Santa figurine that doesn’t quite fit in or make me happy because I loved the person who gave it to me. I am learning that I needn’t be beholden to the secret crates of possessions we squirrel away under the stairs.
I’m better than that. We are all better than that. Our minds are far roomier than our attics and basements, and our memories far more valuable than we give them credit.