This can be done. It might be a little hard at first, and you might have to suck at it, but if you keep going, then everything starts to flow.

That’s how you siphon gas, and that’s how you get the crap out of your house.

In my case, the sucky part involved the two decrepit computers, which would have held on for years, probably, if Tom hadn’t come and euthanized them. Then, there it was: the empty space! The glorious zeroness of the cleaned-off desk! We have now sucked past the high point of the hose and it’s all downhill from here. There are cubbyholes. There are closets. There are drawers. All of them packed with stuff I don’t need and, in some cases, do not remember ever having acquired. It’s time to move it on out.

I imagined it would be something like the weather system we get around here: atmospheric rivers. Our house is a high-pressure zone, and outside is a low pressure zone, and once you get everything whirling it should, theoretically, all go one direction.

Cubbyhole, post-purge

I started with one cubbyhole. The idea was to pull everything out of it and then put back only what I wanted to keep. it wasn’t even necessary to “pull.” I tugged at one item and everything came barreling out. It was an explosion. Shit was everywhere. If I’d even tried to put it all back I’d need my old road-map folding skills and a lubricant. And I didn’t start with the easy stuff: fifty years of photo prints and negatives were in there. I looked at every one, saved about twenty to scan, reminisced a bit, and that was that. Out the door! Roll on, big river!

I Have Changed. And in more ways than the photos prove. I’m letting go. I’m letting go like a fart in church. Like arm skin billowing in the breeze. Like an old bladder sensing a toilet nearby.

The only thing slowing me down was the effort to keep everything out of the landfill. Can’t be helped, some of it. But there are donation centers, and a recycling bin, and the place you take your electronics and a place that takes art supplies, and there’s always the Free Box you put on your curb. I set out a box and started feeding things in.

Every day I’d check. Oh! The matching goblets are gone. Oh, the spatulas are gone. Oh, good, a camera case is gone. Mostly I put quality items out there but some of the crap that disappears surprises me. And things did disappear.

Then things appeared.

One day I went out and there was more stuff than what I’d put out. There was a bag of food leaning against the power pole. Good stuff, too, not expired, canned vegetables, bags of walnuts and oatmeal. But this is my power pole. Every day I checked and nobody wanted that food. You don’t like to feel bad about someone sharing their bounty but I don’t know why my sidewalk struck them as the place to do it. This was clearly going to end up being my problem.

Then I went out and there was another bag against the pole. This one was a double-plastic-wrapped fifty-pound bag of baker’s sugar. Because clearly my power pole is just the spot in case someone happens by who is only fifty pounds of sugar away from starting a pop-up pastry cart.

Get your own power pole, I thought. This is not an open-air market. I have things of my own to get rid of. And we’ve got urban coyotes that are liable to turn that sugar bag into Burning Man Festival for the ants. Finally I gave in. I loaded it all into my car and drove it to Urban Gleaners. The can labels were drenched and the bag of sugar had a hole in it. I wasn’t hopeful, but the nice man took it all. Even the sugar? “The pigs will love that sugar,” he said. You got pigs? I didn’t ask. The stuff was gone. And I plan to keep it that way.

Because I could see the trajectory. One bag attracts another and the next thing you know, this power pole will tar-baby its way to a ratty sofa and a peeling pressboard bookcase. No sir. My sidewalk, my crap.