making room for air

When I was a kid, I wanted things to mean something. I wanted to remember every holiday, every milestone, believe every myth was true. I wanted to find the ends of rainbows so I could talk to leprechauns and bring back pots of gold. I kept momentos: pebbles, ribbons, movie tickets, leaves pressed between pages. We were always moving, so I would concentrate very hard on remembering what it feels like now to be here in this place. So I could remember when I was in a different town, a different house, with different friends.

I felt as though I had to gather up the moments and bring them with me. That I had to carry life around, rather than just live it. Some people find that being transitory makes them lighter, but I found the opposite. If I were somewhere permanent, I wouldn’t need so many things. I gathered up the permanence of my things around me like a warm blanket in front of a crackling fire in winter.

But all that’s changed. I don’t know why, not really. Maybe I had to leave my things behind and start over so many times that stuff just doesn’t matter like it used to. Or maybe I started feeling stifled by the weight of it all. Maybe my apartment is just too small and there’s no room to be sentimental.

I just know that I need air and space. I’m obsessed with getting rid of as much stuff as I can. I haul away boxes and boxes of things. Ask everyone I know if they’re looking for an old laptop, a stack of books, a corkscrew. And mostly, I’ve thrown away the ribbons and the movie tickets and the pebbles.

I don’t get rid of everything.

I   still have a small box of ribbons and sentiment. And my grandma’s recipes. And I keep most of my books. And those terrible poems I wrote in junior high school.

And one day, you might come over and you’ll ask me where the corkscrew is. And I’ll say, well, I don’t have one of those, but perhaps I could read you this poem instead.

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