This morning what I have come to think of as The Great Disgorgement truly began. I had wanted it to start earlier in the week. But a wintry turn in the weather combined with my getting the second shot of the wretched Shingrex vaccine, torpedoed my plans and moved them to today. The husband and I consoled ourselves by thinking better late than never and started emptying the closet.
Arrayed in the photo to the left are some of the bags of shoes, pants, hats, socks, coats, and different kinds and sizes of shirt that we donated to Goodwill today. Ever honest, the Husband will admit that some of this stuff had been slated for a worthy cause months or years ago, but that he had just never gotten around to actually donating.
"It was never the right time," he will say or "I would think of doing it, but find out it was a Sunday, when Goodwill was not open to taking donations." I will just nod in weary sympthy. I know all too well how effectively, until they are actually out the door, one's inanimate possessions can plead to stay.
In his essay Goodbye To Forty-eighth Street, noted author and essayist E.B. White discussed this very phenomenon. "I am impressed by the reluctance of one’s worldly goods to go out again into the world," he wrote, adding that successfully emptying a six room Manhattan apartment after three decades required "real ingenuity and great staying power."
I thought of White's essay a lot today because he and his wife were involved then in a project much like my the Husband's and mine now; swapping one sort of life in one place for another, very different, life in a very different place. In their case it meant abandoning three decades of life in the heart of New York City to live on a farm in rural Maine. In ours it means fleeing three decades of life in a suburb for to live in the heart of a Spanish city. Since I've never done either, I cannot say which change is greater, but when I consider the distance, language and cultural evolutions involved in ours, I suspect we might claim the larger shift.
There was a funny dualism in the disgorgement work we did today. On the one hand, it felt completely mundane; the gathering, evaluating, packaging, moving and delivering years' worths of objects into the hands of someone else. Two middle-aged men cleaning out a closet or attic. But on the other hand, it felt revolutionary and important. Each small item that we abandoned to a future somewhere else brought us closer to our own fortunes somewhere else and each bag we carried from the car to the Goodwill bins freed us a tiny bit more to leave.