We are packing our shit and preparing to leave our house, the house where nobody likes to throw anything away.
I like the idea of a fresh start, in terms of starting over in a clean empty house and pretending that we’ll learn to not pile things on every available surface. We’ll want to keep things tidy because we’ll be motivated by the nice empty canvass of the nice empty house.
But still, I am trying. I’m giving shit away and getting rid of stuff I can live without. So I started getting rid of old books, the kind that are really yellowed with tiny print and smell really musty. Eventually, I had boxes of books to take to the thrift store.
I realized that now when someone visits me, they won’t know I was once smart. They won’t have any idea of how well-read I am! Most of the fiction I bought over the years was in the form of cheap paperbacks, with a few rare exceptions when I felt justified in splurging on a hardback edition. I packed up dozens of wonderful moldy books that I would still recommend to anyone who likes to read.
All that Balzac, Zola, Bronte sisters, Goethe, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, Nabokov, Iris Murdoch, Hermann Hesse, Tolstoy, Fitzgerald, Doris Lessing, Camus, all those great books that helped me to understand human nature while escaping the awfulness of being me.
If you know you’re not going to read those yellowed pages again, why should you keep them? Do people keep enormous ‘libraries’ of books just to remind themselves how much they’ve read? Or because books are too sacred to throw away? I really don’t know the answer. I will still have tons of books that are in good shape, because they’re newer or because they’re big art books made from high quality paper.
But people who meet me now will think I’m some idiot who just reads dictionaries and books about street gangs and mental disorders.
Meanwhile, my mind is now preoccupied with stuff I’ve never thought about in my entire life. Toilet seats! Kitchen cabinets! Media consoles! Wicker porch chairs!
It’s pathetic, these new preoccupations. We even discovered this TV channel where ALL THEY DO is buy houses, knock down walls, and argue about tile! It’s a whole new world, a world I never thought I’d relate to.
And it’s brought me and my husband a new kind of intimacy as we mock those losers who always talk about ‘natural light’ and always, always manage to say the word ‘granite.’