All The Things

by Shaina

I learned a new way to pare down: would you keep it if it was covered in moth eggs, and even if you were going to wash it, you risked the chance of moths creeping out of it days later and infesting all of your other things?  I learned this method from a box I had containing a half-eaten hat I once knit and a bunch of other woollens covered in eggs.  I kept a couple hats, my mittens, and my monkey footies.  It is day 3, and there are no signs of life in the remaining clothes.  The point is, I barely remember what was in that moth hostel of a box that I left by the road for the unfortunate garbage man.  I don’t feel bad about the garbage man part (in 6th grade, my history teacher said garbage men make more than teachers…and I’m a cook, so I suppose the moth eggs surprise is my contribution to the socialism of comfort on the job versus pay).  But I do feel awkward about all these ball and chain belongings.  Even the word “belonging” has its own burden to it.  It’s neither positive nor negative; it just states that the item is yours.  The other day I said, “Dad, I wanted less when I had less.”  He probably agreed without trying to think about the implications of that statement for a man who worked his ass off for the past thirty years and owns the kind of decorative foo dogs that sit on pedestals that jut out from your dining room walls.  Or was it plates that go on the walls?  I was never sure about the reason for those wall plates, but perhaps someday gravity will shift, and that will be the most convenient way for dinner to take place.  These things happen.  But as for the things…I went four months without all of them during my wandering.  And here I am, nesting into an apartment, surrounding myself with tchotchkes, books I already read and won’t read again, lamps…it would be so simple if lamps made sense…and blankets and extra towels in case there are guests and cups and tiny birdcages…so it turns out that these things are a longing to recontextualize.  You go somewhere, and you pack up your context, and you unpack it, and you say, “I am me.”  These things are signs that you’re still there.  And you are.  And they are.  But it’s not mutually inclusive.  The pain comes when you lose your most important belongings and realize you’re still there, being you.  In a strange place, maybe.  You of no context, with just your body and whatever wits in your head that are left.  You will wonder how you know who you are.  You might realize that you are the only person in this world who will never know you.  Once the melancholy of it sets in, you will accept it.  Adjustment would be one way to think about grappling.  I prefer waiting for the Stockholm Syndrome.  Once it comes, you will inevitably find your things, you know.  Up to and including the godforsaken left socks that escaped last decade.  And you will say, I would have given these to the moths.  You will throw them into your small wastebasket with the smaller, smiling grocery bag, which says, “Thank you.”  Thank you for your donation to the hypothetical moths, it says.  It is such a small bag.  You will throw the rest out the window or maybe find another way to jettison the belongings.  The main issue is that you are certain you need to keep some warm things for the winter.  And of course, it would be callous to throw away pictures of you and your sister as naked babies in tutus.  And you are ever so glad you found your wine skin so that you can be the most up-to-date version of hipster the city has seen….