Carol and I enter our second week of trying to clean out the junk. I wish we had never started. But now there’s no way out from under it. We can’t go back. We are like those people marching to the South Pole. Somehow in attempting to clean out the garage we also unleashed from inside the condo a deepening flood of junk. Sort of like trying to pop a pimple and opening an artery in the process.
As we went along I tried to devise some throwing out rules. Out it goes:
If you didn’t know you had it, till you saw it…
If you have not touched it in five years…
If you have not used or worn it in two years…
If you think it is possibly poisonous or toxic….
Exceptions being. You can keep it:
If the thought of throwing it out makes you want to cry
If it might be useful for some legal reason (old, decaying taxes for example)
If it might have some sort of significant resale value (so far we haven’t come across anything like that)
If you are not certain what it is and so cannot determine if it is useless or not (electronic stuff, most especially).
Carol has clothes from high school and unfortunately too she has a memory and remembers when she bought the items or the special occasions on which she wore them. She was having such a terrible time throwing stuff out that I volunteered to take pictures of the items and then she could put them in some sort of memory book. When she said she was going to keep her prom dresses, I said sure and if you want we can dip them in plastic so they will last forever.
I don’t have any memory so I don’t have many sentimental attachments except to pieces of paper upon which things are written. While throwing out old pieces of paper, do not pause to read letters written by old advisors, bosses, editors, friends (that you no longer speak to), friends (period), parents or lovers. Instead, go to Home Depot, buy some big plastic storage box, and stuff all the letters and old essays and short stories into those, and shove it all into a corner and do your best to forget it. On the outside, stick a tag reading: To Be Disposed of On the Occasion of My Death.
This picture of my toolbox serves to illustrate my idea of organizing junk. A) I have no idea what’s in this box and B) I don’t know the function of half of the stuff.