"What can I give you for your birthday?"
"Oh, nothing, please! I already have everything I need."
My house is filled with decades' worth of accumulated junk. Some is sentimental, some valuable, some useful, and quite a bit is none of the above. I'm guessing I'm not the only person I know in this predicament. Things get put away when they're no longer needed - baby clothes in the attic, vases in the back of a closet - and the "out of sight, out of mind" phenomenon kicks in. Eventually the unneeded stuff starts taking up so much space that the things I do need and want spill out into the living area, turning it into a storage area.
Simplicity is serenity. I want to get rid of the things I don't need, but I become overwhelmed trying to sort through it all. I make periodic trips to Goodwill. I shred, trash, recycle and consign, but still it seems that there's always more stuff lurking in the corners of my home.
And so I imagine a party that's like the opposite of a birthday party. An un-birthday party, if you will. The guests don't bring presents for me. Instead, I give things to them. I picture them roaming my house, like the guys on American Pickers, finding treasures in my closets and attic.
"What a nice purse!"
"Like it? It's yours!"
"I've been looking for a lemon juicer like this."
"Well now you've found one. Take it!"
"That baby puzzle has the pieces ours is missing!"
"Great! Now you've got a whole one."
I wrap all the gifts in festive paper and bags and put bows on top, then hand them back for guests to take home. I tell my friends that no thank-you note is necessary, because they have just given me the best gifts imaginable: space, time, and peace of mind.
"What can I take from you for your birthday?"
February 15, 2015
Not black or argyle or paisley.
When I sit with legs crossed
My ankle is exposed.
It's obvious I don't belong
Here among stone columns
And gilt ceilings
And echoing marble floors.
In theory, I own this building.
In practice, it belongs
To the silk-sock comped-lunch hunt club crowd,
Those men who know and recognize
Others of their kind.
Me, they can safely ignore,
Sitting and waiting
In this elegant hallway:
A forgotten stranger
With white cotton socks.