The Purge Part 10: These Things. These Things That Define Us.

This is a post about purging the physical "things" in our lives that we have no use for.

In PA a few Sundays ago, Keil asked me what my favorite places are.

"You mean like...places. On a map? Like cities? Or like places, like..."
"Yeah, like places."

This conversation is obviously not translating well into print, but let's all just keep with us the understanding that I somehow, from this, garnered what he meant.

"In my hometown, there's a coffee shop on a corner, a couple blocks from the high school I went to. It's two stories, and has floor to ceiling factory windows on two sides. Upstairs, by the far wall directly across the stairwell, there is a particular table. The second one from the left. I've always done my best work there. Seated at that table."

That was just the first one. I thought about it a bit and returned a few more. The art section at Powell's Books, Portland, Oregon. The beach at Salt Creek outside of Port Angeles, Washington. A very early morning stroll through Chinatown, San Francisco, California. The drive from Key Biscayne to Key West, Florida. A bar in Venice that served me my first Imperial Pint. Fucking Molotov's on Haight for crissakes. The Duck. Whiskey Thieves. The Abbey in Miami. Eating snails on Espanola Way. Boston Commons. The big ass Montana sky. The continental divide. The Milky Way sprawled high above Carson City, Nevada.

These are the things that I love collecting.

The things that I hate collecting? The piles of useless shit that sits around my apartment, a lot of which isn't even mine.

It's hard to be me sometimes. It's hard to be me a lot of the time. Most weekdays I work about eleven hours, on a good day only 9 or 10. Then Saturdays usually find me trying to swing another six or eight hours just for good measure. Sometimes Sundays I'll do the same. Do I need to work so much? Financially, I mean? No. I don't. But it's that fear--that latent fear that something will happen and I'll need a few hundred or a few thousand dollars--that keeps me rising in the morning, punching the clock, crying on the train on my way home because my whole body hurts so, so bad. The fear is somewhat rational, bad things happen and they've happened to me before, and I'm way too fragile to be caught off guard. And so I hoard money, feel guilty when I spend it, and refuse to pay more than five or six dollars for a bottle of champagne.

Among other things, this lifestyle leaves me swilling pretty bad sparkling, but it's not so bad. My bed makes even the cheapest champagnes that much better, and the now twice weekly dinners of strawberries and pink champagne consumed in recline while I paint my toes have become my favorite parts of my week. It's better than laying awake and watching my muscles, particularly those in my legs, twitch uncontrollably until two or three in the morning.

I'm just so tired. I'm tired all the time but especially this week, and my apartment is so messy that I fell asleep last night and dreamed that I was cleaning it and woke up disappointed that my floor wasn't mopped. And all of this stuff! Look at all this shit--I have no idea how I sold almost everything I owned when I left Seattle and yet somehow ended up with more stuff than I've ever had shy of two years later.

So it's finally going.

There are boxes and bags of notebooks and garbage and old scratched CD's and albums that had lived under my bed until I finally dragged them out last week, threw it all into trash bags, and tossed it away. There are all my old clothes that sit around in too-big piles of too-big stuff, and those too got bagged up and let go. You know I have an entire PA system? That sits on a shelf unused? That space is now being used by all my sewing and painting paraphernalia, and the equipment will be leaving me as soon as someone can pick it up.

And then there's my bed. My outrageously comfortable pillowtop bed set in it's bright red frame--I love my bed. and when I'm so tired that I can barely manage to throw away my ex's garbage I curl up in my soft sheets in my soft bed and drink soft pink champagne and paint my toenails pink and for a few minutes everything seems okay. But my bed is not okay; it's not okay for building new relationships in or even for hosting hoards of various trolling pretty boys and girls. NO! For these pursuits, we must have a new one, one without history, and a bigger one at that so that everything I love will fit squarely inside of it all at once.

Hmm. Is that all? No, actually. There are some more things I just can't wait to get rid of.

The thousands of emails in my inbox[es]. A few inches of my hair. My glasses. My phone for fucks sake, because I hate it. I want to purge all the shit that made old me and get all new shit for all new me.

Not that I need new things to define me, I don't. Those types of definitions don't lie in my stuff, but rather in the things that I do, the promises that I keep, and the places I frequent.

In my hometown, where I just was recently, there is a coffee shop. It sits on a corner and has two stories of factory windows on two sides. And they're tearing it down next year.

Two Sundays ago I was there and I held my little coffee and I climbed the stairs in the rear and looked out through those huge factory windows into the face of Downtown Seattle. As aggravating as my hometown can be, that place made me! It's what keeps me from throwing glass bottles in the trash and makes me wait at the crosswalk for the light to change and is why I put tartar sauce on my french fries. But can't I be shaped by an active hand too?

Where will I work best when they tear down the Melrose Building?

I want to collect new places and cultivate new traditions. I don't want to fear the things I used to and I want to travel lighter. I want to be more emotionally responsible even to those who are seemingly fleeting, because as it was recently pointed out to me, boy toys are people too

I'm finally getting into see the rhematologist in a couple of weeks, and I'm ready. The last few things that have been holding me back will be long gone. With everything sufficiently purged that needs purging, I can focus on my treatments and make an earnest attempt to get well.

Then you will find me; there in my giant, new bed in my too big apartment surrounded by my laptop and champagne and oh-so-many colors of nail polish and a pretty, witty boy, and probably his laptop, too.

And you will find me happy.


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