Forget the Marie Kondo Method, Just Throw It All Away

Liza Monroy Inside My Brain

The last few days, I’ve been clearing out my old Brooklyn apartment to make more space for our friend who has been subletting it since I moved to Santa Cruz five years ago. Rent went up, his girlfriend moved in, and so the time came for my stuff I’d been storing there to go. When I first went to Santa Cruz, not knowing if it would be a permanent move, I brought a few suitcases and shipped a handful of boxes. The majority of my belongings — books and journals, clothes (When did I think it was a good idea to wear that?) and all kinds of miscellaneous items — think pug paperweights and costume jewelry — were still living in Brooklyn. A wall of boxes thoughtfully pre-packed by our friend awaited our arrival for the sorting. In two days, we had to decide what to get rid of and what to ship. I decided to get rid of most things and it felt SO GOOD. After five years away, looking back on all the belongings that spoke to who I was in my twenties and early thirties, I was able to reflect on the past and how much I’ve changed, how much things have changed.

The great part of it all was that as someone who has had a tendency to hold on to stuff, be attached to the story I thought it would tell me about myself, I was able to throw things away easily for the first time in my life. I moved around a lot growing up, so I relied on notes, notebooks, cards, photos, and random items to remind me of who I was and where I’d been, who I’d loved and been friends with, who had loved and befriended me. For the first time, I was able to part with a lot of those things, items I’d had for years: a card an ex had written to another woman on a vacation he’d taken with me, that I stole from his apartment after one of our many breakups. I’d stolen it as a reminder that he cheated, a reminder to myself to stop trying to go back to that relationship (reader, I married him – no surprise, it didn’t work out). High school yearbooks and pictures with people I’d long fallen out of touch with. Notebooks where I recorded pre-smartphone, pre-Internet, even, schedules, thoughts, and ideas. Photos and love notes from past relationships. Lists of writing goals and letters from graduate school critiquing my manuscripts. All these and more were the kinds of things I held on to, that I needed to hold on to.

Some things ended up on the sidewalk with a FREE sign. One couple who stopped by to browse and take books said they knew I worked in media/entertainment based on the books I owned (David Rensin’s THE MAILROOM: Hollywood History From the Bottom Up was on top of the giveaway pile) and that my name was Liza (some letters from book review editors I wrote for, etc, inside some books) and I owned a pug (pug paraphernalia). We talked about the surreality of being able to read someone’s identity from a pile of stuff they left outside.

We dropped a few things off around the neighborhood — a little dish collection to the Thai restaurant downstairs, books to various dropoff points, some clothes into a donation bin at the laudromat. Leaving little gifts around to be discovered or found, hopefully used.

Today, tonight, and this morning (the ridding went on until after midnight) I parted with them more easily than I ever could have imagined.