When I was little, I loved the book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, and my mom and I reference it all the time. Usually, we can just shorten it to, “If you give a mouse…” and the other person will know that it relates to getting carried away. Last night, I craved a clementine because a day of eating chips and guacamole and bread pudding and not a lot of water will do that to you. (I love intuitive eating.) Sometimes, I don’t eat much fruit because it’s juicy, i.e. messy, and my main leisure activities are internetting, reading, and knitting, and I hate when my computer, books, and yarn get sticky. So, I turned on the TV, which I don’t really do very often, and was promptly sucked in to This Emotional Life on PBS, which was thoroughly intriguing, and I watched it for a full two hours. After that, I channel surfed and found out that we have A&E (I told you I don’t watch TV often). A&E airs Hoarders, which I’ve really been trying to avoid because I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop watching it. And Hoarders was on, and I couldn’t stop watching it. It was horrifying, yes, but mostly, I was in counseling mode watching it: “They can’t just throw that stuff away! It’s not that simple! They nee to explore the psychological need to keep the stuff! Oh, good, there’s the therapist. I think this guy has a chance at getting better because he seems to have a decent support network.” (Jeffrey was there, so I wasn’t talking to myself.) It got interesting to see the different perspectives in this apartment, too, when the lady hoarder came across footprints and handprints from her stillborn baby, which Jeffrey declared, “Messed up,” and I pointed out was completely healthy because my clinic does that for clients who choose abortion because of a fetal anomaly.

So, all this to say, all of my reasonable clutter turned to hoarding in my eyes, and I cleaned up like crazy today. I tossed the teapot my late grandfather got me for a high school graduation gift, because I kept a teapot he kept on his shelves that I received after his death. I got rid of an eight-year-old coat that never fit but I held onto because my friend gave it to me, because I know that even she would ask me why I was holding onto it. I bagged a pair of super-flattering jeans that were super-uncomfortable, not to mention hand-me-downs from the ex-friend who stole my crush six and a half years ago, not that I’m bitter. I also ended up getting rid of dubious things like stray thumbtacks and unopened moisturizer because I can’t stand for things to be wasted.

I loaded two full garbage bags, one paper box, and one grocery bag full of assorted stuff into my car and planned ot drop it off at the Goodwill donation center by Kroger. The Goodwill donation center that disappeared, BAH. It ended up not being a huge deal because I was en route to a haircut not far from an actual Goodwill, and that Goodwill tends to be frequented more by immigrant families in need than hipsters in need of ironic duds. I lugged my bags inside, one by one, and the Southeast Asian man who watched me return from my car again and again quietly commented, “So much stuff, ma’am. Thank you.” And I replied gleefully, because I knew I wasn’t a hoarder, “Yes, so much stuff!”

The thing is, though, that now I’m at home, unencumbered by clutter and clothes and grad school residue (my Trans backpack and five Foucault books were the last vestiges), I’m picturing the man who was pleased with all my “stuff,” sorting through my bags. I know it was him because he had already started when I was still delivering more. When I go to the Goodwill trailers in parking lots, my things hang out there for a while, then they go wherever they go, and then somebody sorts them, and no one ever knows who the crazy person was who donated rogue thumbtacks that might have necessitated a Tetanus shot. But now, I know who my Goodwill donations facilitator was, and he knows who the donor was, and he is probably regaling his family with tales of some strange, small woman wearing two pairs of pants (It’s cold in Atlanta) who donated a used box of scented Crayola crayons she bought for her school box in sixth grade, because if you give a Laura a clementine…

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