I sat on my Aunt’s bed as she brought item after item out of her closet. They were beautiful. Silks and linens, wool, designer prêt à porter. She laid them out, pile upon pile.
“When did you last wear it?” I asked.
I remember her facial expressions. I wasn’t sure if she was going to punch me or not, nonetheless I demanded, “Get rid of it!”
“You are brutal!” she said.
Next item. “Get rid of it!” “Brutal!!!”
The afternoon went on like this until her closet was paired down. We made a list of what she needed, new black pants, a crisp white blouse that she looked like a million bucks in, well fitting jeans. I loaded bags of her beautiful clothes into the back of my SUV and later donated them to a women’s shelter. Thousands of dollars in lovely lovely clothing, good-bye.
She said she felt lighter. She said she now knew just how brutal I was. That was two years ago, and she still calls me brutal. She’s right.
Kile and I joked about being minimalists, we like to do a massive purge every few years, it’s called moving. One such move we relocated from a 2000 sq-ft house to a 900 sq-ft apartment, unless we loved it, it was gone. You’re welcome Salvation Army.
I’ve long stood by the quality verses quantity methodology. People have looked in my closet and exclaimed, “wow, you have no clothes.” Kile scoffed when we were dating and I bought myself a pair of $200 jeans. He was shocked, I still wear them today, almost 8 years later, while he’s probably gone through 20 pairs in that time. He’s coming around.
While studying abroad I babysat for the most lovely french family. The mother had the most fantastic style, she wasn’t tendy or showy, just very classy, well fitting pants, a slimming sweater, ankle booties and a neckless. As I recall, she had a very small closet, by American standards anyway. She had a uniform. I loved it. How simple, how lovely.
Not long ago Mark Zuckerberg posted a picture on Facebook, first day back on the job since his daughter was born. “What to wear?” he wrote followed by a picture of 10 of the exact same shirt. How simple, I thought.
It’s spring and I started feeling like I needed to declutter. I don’t know what it is about winter that causes us to hoard or things to pile up. The Christmas lights not properly put away. The dishes never properly organized in my new kitchen. The out of order closet. The messy desk. The list goes on.
But where to start?
I picked up a copy of Marie Kondo’s “the life-changing magic of tidying up” and began flipping through it. On the back of her lovely little book I read this: “With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy”…”
Spark Joy. What a concept. Only keep things that bring you joy…in a way I think I’ve often done this when weeding through my belongings, but never before have I had a name for it.
Immediately I began making a list of things to let go, and others that I would hold onto.
Ill-fitting jeans that make me feel bad about myself. Goodbye.
Basically anything that forces me to wear a strapless bra. Farewell.
Beautiful shoes that kill my feet and sit in a box. Au revoir.
Gold yard sale owl book-ends, you bring me silly joy. Spark Joy.
Provincial runner that brings me back to my year abroad. Spark Joy.
Panini press and juicer, you stay.
And so on and so forth. Spark Joy. How simple, how lovely. I looked at my things with the same simple brutality that I forced my Aunt to weed through her closet. There were somethings I wanted to hold on to, just because maybe I’d need them. How silly, I’d never used them, they were in fact useless. Use-less. Never used. Why on earth was I allowing them to clutter my space and better yet my brain?
I always feel so light after a good decluttering. How simple. How lovely.