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I am surrounded by paper and photographs, memorabilia and boxes. It’s a mess — and is certainly not the perfect environment to write anything. I have always, always had to clean my space before I could write a word but not today — I don’t have a choice. If I clean the mess up first I’ll never get to this writing but if I don’t clean the mess will I be able to write this? Viscious circles lead nowhere.

Rose is to blame for the whole thing. All of this stuff was nicely hidden from view in the bottom drawer of my desk. It had been there for years — occasionally I’d open the drawer, look at the piles, sigh and close it firmly. Out of sight and all that. But on that fateful Thursday when the mobile vet came to visit, Rose chose the back of that drawer as one of her escape routes. She had cleverly pawed the drawer open, wiggled her fat little self over the piles and behind the back of the drawer. The vet looked at my piles and said, “I’ll lift the drawer out.” I translated his look as — Get all that stuff out of there first so I don’t get a hernia doing it! So I did. Piled it nose-deep on my desk. Just as I finished, Rose heaved herself from the back and darted downstairs — foiling our attempt to capture her.

The stuff has been stacked here all week — a daily reminder of just how awful-horrible-terrible the week of cat-hell has been. Not that I needed reminders — I still had my scars. I thought about just dumping it once again in the drawer and leaving it to age for another few years. But my Capricorn self shouted De-Clutter-Your-Stuff-Now! So here I am.

I’m actually pretty good at getting rid of stuff. I mean I’m the woman who burned 30 years worth of journals that had followed me around for years. When I moved with the reluctant-murmuring-ex-husband to Canada, they came along. In retrospect, I should have re-read the ones from my early days with him at that point and maybe I wouldn’t have come. But I didn’t. Here, they sat in my bedroom in a footlocker — unopened (like this desk drawer) — for 15 years. Then I decided that it’s probably not good karma if you’re trying to attract new loves in your life to have all of those icky memories of your-not-so-great-relationships hanging around the bedroom. Drastic action was called for and I did it. My niece and her friend helped me burn them in their wood burning stove. I smelled of burnt paper and ash for days afterwards. I wonder if all those bits and pieces and words reconstructed somewhere like the note in Mary Poppins?

So, really, if I could do that — surely I can go through these folders and boxes and photos and junk and get rid of some of it — all of it? But, in a way, it’s much easier to burn things than to go through them one by one. With fire you don’t have to deal with all the “Ahhh” memories and the “Maybe I’ll need that someday” conversations in your head. Poof, fire just takes care of all that.

Why do I keep all this stuff? I understand the 7-years-or-you’re-screwed reasoning behind keeping tax records, but why all this other stuff? My report card from the 5th grade? A folder that says “Leads” but to what and where? Photos of people I don’t even know anymore. A poem I wrote from my broken heart when I split from the ex-ex. Early drafts of Annie’s Odyssey. A pile of clippings from the newspaper (dated 2009!) labeled “Books to Get From Library” — I probably won’t even be able to figure out why I was interested.

I’m going to do it. I’m going to start right now. It’s a perfect day for it — cold, rainy, dark. I can just cacoon myself here in my little corner and remember or not as I choose. I won’t throw it all out — not now, not this time around. I want to continue to be able to touch some of those memories — like my 5th grade Report Card from St. James the Less School — after all, how else will I prove I got an A in English that year.

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