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The Luxury of Whining

When most of your life is going well, you get to have first world problems.  My number one ongoing first world struggle is with space, or lack thereof, and that has been the case whether I've been living with someone else or living alone.  I love my apartment, my neighbors, and my neighborhood, and I've had to admit that I am not up for a move, even if that is the only way to truly increase my square footage.  But the dimensions, layout, and limitations of this place start to crowd in on me every few months, it seems, until I get off my ass and make something happen.

Usually, it starts and ends with cleaning and organizing.  This year alone I have gone through the contents of every box, drawer, and corner of my place, throwing old things away, donating things I've been able to part with, and rearranging the rest.  And to be fair, I've done some good work, whether you can tell the difference when you walking in or not.  The amount of excess crap I've thrown out with no greater use is one thing, but the number of things I've donated or given away is even more impressive.  It's been difficult to teach myself to be honest about my stuff.  I mean, I am an American and something of a sentimentalist; I have loved stuff all my life and I used to feel comforted by a certain profusion of things in my orbit.  I haven't been a hoarder, but I have been a limited collector.

But as I've gotten older and wanted to have more room to maneuver, as I've wanted to be able to find things without hours of searching, and as I've become less attached to many items, I've started to teach myself how to filter through my things.  I do it at least once a year.  Losing massive amounts of weight only helped point out the need for such ritual shedding, since I shrank out of clothes and was thankful to know I'd never need them again.  Favorite shirts, gone.  Old but loved pants?  Out.  I'm still trying to get to the point where if I don't wear it once in a year's time, it's gone. 

And it's still an uphill battle against decades of habit.  Just lately I've found that I can part with books that I love but will likely never read again (but books that will also be easy to reacquire).  I'm still struggling with myself to let go of the books I studied so intensely for my Master's exam; though they are undoubtedly excellent, I've left that six months of time well behind me.  They're not collector's editions or anything. Some other student of English could probably use them.  But they've lived with me too long...

The real problem that I might be able to fix in the upcoming year is furniture.  Most of my pieces are still hand-me-downs I obtained out of need, and I've been grateful for every one of them.  But they tend to be shorter and wider, taking up floor space I can't afford and not using the upward space that I actually have in some abundance.  Toward the end of last year, I gave myself the task of finding a set of dishes I love and teaching myself how to be good to them.  I also used Christmas gifts to obtain my first real set of matching towels, picked just how I liked them (and even if they do shed still, their colors are lovely and they're still happily soft!).  And I set myself the chore of reviewing everything I owned.  It worked out pretty damned well.

I think this end of the year will involve the search for new furniture, measured and perhaps even brand new, as a way to make my home even more comfortable for me, my love, my cats, and my friends.  Because this is the first world and I might finally have the luxury of doing such a thing.