Sorting the Physical Self

Tonight I finally opened one of my two mystery “old file” boxes I’ve been lugging around from apartment to apartment since the mid 90s. Boy, I was organized back in the 90s. I found traces of my old New York life, one of my many partially discarded and partially digested selves. I uncovered my original birth certificate in a plastic sleeve surrendered to me by my mother many moons ago. It’s got that great 1970s type and is printed on a green piece of paper.

I always joke that I own nothing other than my own body.

Several boxes of books say different. Also, I had no idea I had so many knickknacks until I started the classifying process. Belongings: books, clothes, bathroom, kitchen, entertainment, appliances, files. a few odd bits of furniture. And a surprising number of borderline useability objects–they’re totally well intentioned, but kinda cluttery and worthless. I’m also surprised at how well sorted my random piles of papers are.  A light notion of a sketch of sense emerges gradually as I handle them again. I can tell I was really trying hard during prior organizational drives. Tonight’s drive will be more authoritative, I congratulate myself assertively.

Sorting is part delight, one third confusion, a smidgen of embarrassment and of course, there’s the back pain. I have to be really strategic in how I utilize my compromised muscular resources.

There’s also the dawning reality: my belongings are a sharp mirror: time, money, friends come and gone. Old address books. Former employers and former health plan details.  I’m finding long letters sent by college friends. All sorts of unsorted pictures. I’m trying to classify the modes, moods and feelings of my existence so they can be boxed up. It’s weird boxing your being up. You want to act all detached. These are things. I don’t believe in things.

I am sinking in things. At the same time, I’m emerging clearer as my self, oddly. I can’t fully explain the paradox, but rediscovering my long journey as I clear out from my longest lived home ever, ultimately fills me with pride in who I’m becoming (not that I’m puffed up about it, I’m just cozy glad).


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