Promptly Written
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Promptly Written

Poetry (nonmonetized)

Moving Out

Writing Spark: (De)Clutter

The author as a child, starting a lifelong obsession with keeping everything

When you have nothing, you keep everything.

Am I a hoarder? I ask myself, picking through boxes of faded receipts, plane tickets, movie theatre stubs, loose pieces of foolscap. I make a scrapbook with all the important pieces, and still have a thousand left over.

I moved out of my mother’s house four years ago and left everything, nearly, in boxes in my old bedroom, in filing cabinets, about a thousand books on buckling bookshelves, boxes under the bed, closet full to bursting with clothes I grew out of years ago, stuffed animals on every surface, costume jewelry, old hats, a box of buttons, jars full of seashells.

It all has to go, now.

Time has marched on. Dust has collected on my things.

On the other side of the world, I buy new things. Slowly, I accumulate a household again. The bare cupboards grow fuller. The bookcase has gaps, but it is filling, one page at a time, with new stories.

It isn’t my room anymore.

Stepping around my junk, all of it, someone has been living in my room. I’m so sorry about the mess. Are my things still my things when I’ve forgotten about them? What do you take when you go?

Packing away the photographs, postcards, scrapbooks, copies of my own books, childhood drawings, macaroni art.

I made that when I was four: keep, or toss?

You were given this when you were born. By whom? They’re dead now. Would they mind if I donated it?

Boxes and boxes and boxes of things.

Marie Kondo all of it. Does it spark joy? It did once. But I have no room for it in my suitcase, in my new life, in my less-cluttered world.

When you have no visual memory, objects become memories. Photographs. Pieces of paper, so many of those. Ticket stubs and friendship bracelets and nametags and buttons and pens and bookmarks and baby shoes and postcards (never sent).

When you build a mountain out of grains of sand, you can’t see how big it’s getting.

I stepped back. Seeing it all again, I have new eyes. Memories unlock as I touch a velvet bunny’s nose, unfold a receipt, open another box. Others are blank. Why did I keep this? Who gave me that? Did I save this for a reason? Why is this in the filing cabinet? There are holes in my memory that these objects no longer fill.

No joy, no story.

Out, out they go! I loved that bear. Some child will hug it again, but not me.

Did I really need to keep every notebook and school assignment I ever wrote? I can fill a dumpster with this — junk, all of it.

When I was little, we didn’t have much. We struggled. I wore clothes until the seams splits. Hand-me-downs too. I kept everything — just in case. We buy in bulk. Coupons, two-for-one, bogo.

Minimalism is for people who always know they can get more when they need it. Minimalism is for rich people.

But — no joy, no story. You can afford new shoes, those have a hole in them. You can’t take all the books, or even many. One or two, everything else goes.

Better to get rid of it now than leave it for the children, someday, to say, why did she save that ragged old thing?

Grains of sand, all of it. And me. Us. Dust, someday.

What do you take with you when you go?

Thank you Ravyne Hawke for today’s Writing Spark:

Write a poem or fiction piece based on ‘Clutter’ or ‘Declutter” or use both. Did you know that cluttered thoughts can affect your overall health? Maybe it is time to take out the trash!

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Casey Lawrence

Casey Lawrence

Casey Lawrence is a Canadian PhD student of English at Trinity College Dublin. She is the author of two LGBT YA novels, Out of Order and Order in the Court.

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