In July of this year, my landlady told me she was selling the building I've inhabited for over 17 years. I have honestly never truly loved this apartment because it's on the first floor and on a corner so I can't leave my windows open to grab fresh air -- it's Chicago after all -- in the few months it's warm enough to enjoy that. People could climb in, toss things in, even simply feast upon my things and me with just their eyes so it's not at all ideal. But this place and I established a truce that went like this: I would live here, it would accommodate me and my things, it wouldn't require too much, and I would run a not-terribly-powerful a/c in the summer. Unfortunately, I stayed too long at the fair.
I have managed to become more stockpiler than hoarder but there is a lot of stuff, knickknack, objets, books. Personal papers of both of my parents, personal papers of my own, hobbies acquired and hobbies abandoned before being adequately pursued sit in bags or in piles or in piles of bags. Yes, I am embarrassed by this. It never occurred to me that I was not married to any of it, that I might consider ditching much of it. There are things here that I love and want to keep but I could survive without. There are things here that I just don't need but like and enjoy. There are the what-the-fucks, the oh-my-gods, the what-the-fuck-but-oh-my-god-I-love-yous. There are books and pictures and picture books. There are things that were given to me by ex-co-workers and ex-neighbors, small tokens that they were thinking of me for which I have no feeling. This question arises: what does one do with one's past obsessions and accumulations?
Today I passed on a couple of things that had no meaning for me to someone for whom they do have meaning. Then I took seven bags of books and stuff to Goodwill and another three of books to the program that gives books to women prisoners. I came home with yogurt and went out to get a solid box to house one of the what-the-fuck-but-oh-my-god-I-love-yous which is a spiral staircase a little over two feet tall. I put down a layer of packing peanuts, put in the stairs, then filled the box with peanuts. It's a move, things break, but I am hoping this piece will survive well.
Today I also sent a table, two matching chairs, and a solid
stepstool to live with my departing landlady. Rumor has it that she did
very well in the sale of the building and good for her. For years my
rent was stupid low and that got me through an entire year when my hours
at work were cut by 20%. She is depressed and upset about leaving her
beloved building but not because she stayed too long at the fair but because
this was her home for 25 years and she never wanted to leave it.
At least she will have a nice table and chairs in the kitchen of her new
condo, one less thing to think about.
So how does all this make me feel? Scared. I am scared. I am also depressed because I so stunningly let my life get away from me. What I liked to do, how I liked to live, how I spent my time in pursuit of personal pleasures have all gotten away from me and I am monumentally sorry, horrified, aghast, and disappointed in myself. No one could me more disappointed in me than I am in myself. Years slipped by and I can't believe I am the age I am. I can still do things that many people would be scared to death to do -- like travel to a foreign country on my own sans tours, getting from the airport to the hotel on a public conveyance of some sort -- but so much else scampered off -- confidence, talent, ability -- and seems to be pissed off at me and is now stewing under a rock or up in a tree, waiting for me to find it and apologize sincerely before it tells me that all is forgiven but not forgotten and I will have to work very hard to be confident, talented, able. I stayed at my job too long and with a condo looming in my future, I can't just go "no more, thanks," without something else to take its place. No one is more disappointed in all this than I am.
I needed this to happen, I suppose; I just wish I'd come to the conclusion on my own 10 years ago. I certainly wish I was something other than disappointed in myself.