Monday, January 16, 2006

Things Are in the Saddle ...

... and ride mankind." Attributed to Emerson, quoted to me last week by a dealer of antiques and objets d'art. And swimming to the surface of my pond daily as I strive to consolidate and compact the detritus of my once-well-stocked home. Now that I am a vagabond, I occasionally wish I could more easily lose my possessions. Socks forgotten under the motel bed? Kid stuff. I'm looking for jackets, books, whole collections of stuff to disappear. Nothing like lugging a 50-pound suitcase from one airport to another to make a lugger wish for less luggage.

Chairs, lamps, speakers, shirts, books, dishes, CDs, and stacks and stacks and stacks of papers, all flung up onto the blazing sands ... life looks very different without a basement. Or a closet. Or a cupboard. I liquidated so much stuff in December -- I keep seeing my former things in friends' houses -- that it feels like some kind of cruel reflux that keeps me wallowing in more of it. Like the plumbing is broken and the house keeps flooding. But I'll be gone very soon, living out of two suitcases for a while, and then I'll start wondering again where specific things went. A friend of mine who's been roadbound for two years says he's reduced his trove to a few boxes of writings. But he was never much for things. I suspect it's harder to be sentimental when you have no things to remind you of what was.

Today I went to pick up a few boxes stored in a friend's garage. But when I found only one of the four boxes, I could barely muster a scrum of anger. Even slight disappointment barely held its own against a warm spreading relief. Just. Didn't. Care. Sure, I went through the motions, calling, asking, mostly because I'd promised the two boxes of ancient MAD magazines to the son of a friend of a friend, but I barely cared. Less to handle, less to store, less to repack. What's to miss? Who needs it? Eventually, someone called back and told me about the secret other room, where the rest of my things were waiting, so I had to go back and cart everything off. The kid will be happy, jeepers, but now I have to figure out what to do with a tennis-themed wall sculpture by Jere, a T-square, a tube of once-beloved posters, a stack of crumbling '60s design magazines, and some really great light fixtures I never want to see again if cash isn't involved. So who's riding the cart, and who's in the saddle? Who cares? All I know is that my feet are tired.


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