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No Matter What that Kondo Woman Says, I Miss My Stuff.

“Oh, it must feel so liberating to have gotten rid of all your ‘stuff.”

Well, I’ll tell you something, I’m getting sick of hearing that.

Why? Because it doesn’t feel liberating to have gotten rid of all my stuff. Because I don’t feel lighter or like it is easier to breathe.

I feel like I’m standing in a dark hole and, while it’s shallow, it’s definitely there.

I miss my stuff.

I was at the grocery store the other day and there on the rack I saw a magazine called something like “Minimalism.” Instead of articles with titles such as, “How to Please Your Man,” the articles had titles like “How to Live More With Less” and “Give it Away and Get More in Return.”

It’s a nice concept. I like it — as a concept. But for me it’s not a concept that translated to my real life.

In my real life I wish I had all my stuff back. Yeah. All of it.

To me that white pasta bowl with the hairline cracks and “Made in Italy” stamped on the bottom of it wasn’t “stuff.” It was a whole movie of the time my little girls gave it to me for Mother’s Day. My cookbooks weren’t merely recipes, they were historical artifacts that recorded events, holidays, and hundreds of everyday meals written in greasy stains and smeared notes with crumbs between the pages. One of them still had a yellow sticky on a page in my handwriting, “Honey, make these brownies when you get home from school, please.”

Without old friends to gather round me like my 1930’s blue bowls from China, my hand carved fretwork window screens and the all green oil painting I had painted when I was in my 20’s I feel lonely and naked.

I definitely do not feel “lighter.”

In fact, I feel the opposite. I feel heavier and I feel like crying.

The good news is that lots and lots of those old friends my daughters took to live with them so I get to visit from time to time.

The bad news is that some of the stuff I gave away haunts me.

“Come and find me and take me home with you,” my old wooden paper cutter (of all things) is calling out to me. “I don’t belong here,” my Farberware Electric Frying pan is crying, “they don’t know how to make your meatballs in this house.”

What happened to the red colander my parents gave me for my 20th wedding anniversary? And that incredible black skirt that I paid over $200.00 for 10 years ago that I could wear anywhere with anything, including to my own wedding.  Where is the dress I was wearing the day I met David? How about the little red wool gloves that I wore down the Grand Canyon?

So no. I don’t feel lighter. No matter what that Kondo (https://konmari.com/) woman says, I miss my stuff.

When I was studying feng shui in San Francisco the teacher said something that explains things to me.

“Look around you,” he’d said. “Look at your house, your clothes, your kitchen. It’s not just stuff. It’s you. Your stuff is you.”

He was so right.

I guess the truth is. I miss me.

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Carmelene Siani

Carmelene is a 77-year-old freelance writer who has been published at Elephant Journal, Better after 50, Huffington Post, The Reader, and Broad Magazine among others. Her stories are personal narratives on grief, family, food, and late-life love. Her aim is to help others see the ways that life is constantly opening to reveal its own lessons. She lives by the dictum of Muriel Rukeyser that “the universe is made of stories, not atoms.”

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