I rummage my bag for a pen. The employee waiting for my signature looks furiously at me under her reading glasses. I get more nervous and it takes me longer to find the pen when I think about how many pairs of eyes behind me stare indignantly at me.
Oops… it is red. The one I use to correct my students’ papers. Now I have to delve deeper into the bag to find a blue one. The fidgety steps behind me in the queue sound like war drums. Sooner than I expect, I will hear words darting in the back of my head like arrows. I swear in my head that the moment I get home I will turn my big fat bag upside down on the floor and throw away all the items that crowd it and make any attempt to find anything a torture.
As I walk home, the strap of the bag cuts deep through my aching shoulder. I remember mother’s complaint: “you took all your books to school when you were young. I tried to convince you to leave the ones you don’t use every day but you always insisted”. Having all my books and notebooks made me feel secure then. I kept the habit when I got older. The things I loved made me feel safe and I kept them close: my favorite books, the fountain pen my uncle gave me, the golden chain my father gave me when I was twelve, the huge fur coat my husband bought me in America and piles and piles of things that crowd the rooms in my house . My hand bag was no exception. I kept myself surrounded by memory- infused stuff and carried all my luggage around. I felt safer knowing I have everything I need handy. With years’ worth of accumulated stuff, I felt heavier, shackled and entangled in a web from the past and now is the time to get rid of the extras. I need to live lighter, feel lighter. I will start with my hand bag.
I open the door, throw the burning hot keys and the sun glasses on the coffee table and decide to skip the shower until I take care of the bag. Now that is one brave decision and I might as well reward myself with a cup of earl gray tea to push me through the hard job. My uncle loved earl grey too. The kettle clicks indicating water is boiled and wakes me from my thoughts. When was the last time I emptied the contents of my bag? I fail to remember. When I want to change bags I usually take everything in a bag and stuff into another. I choose the big ones that won’t revolt against the volume and the weight of my stuff. When was the last time I de-cluttered my messy life? Five years ago when I moved into the new apartment? I don’t remember getting rid of things back then, I only came up with new ways to store them.
One step at a time. Take it easy nice and slow. I encourage myself knowing that it would not be easy to part with my things. My things. Parts of who I am, just like the five extra kilos I keep within and carry around, failing to let go of. I will have some fun doing it too. No, no, no. Not the diet. That will come later. It is only a simple task of cleaning up a cluttered bag, I assure my anxious self. It would be like a game: I will sit in the middle of the big sofa with the bag on my lap, just like a new born. I will put the things I have to keep on my right. Everything else will go on the left, even if it is used occasionally it will go in the trash. I take the last sip of earl grey and touch my aching right shoulder to push my hesitant self forward. From now on I won’t have to carry a heavy bag. Even more. I will get rid of the huge sack like bags. I will get out my pretty medium sized bags and start using them. I will change bags every few days instead of hanging on to a black one that goes with all outfits. If I don’t use my bags then I will have to get rid of them too. That would be a fit punishment.
God that hurts! It feels like delving inside your very soul and grabbing out all the rot. To my right I put the small purse with the money and ids. Another swollen purse lies on my lap, refusing to go to the left side. I don’t even remember what is inside it so I get everything out. Photos of my husband and children, not one photo each, but a set of six recent photos in case I needed to apply for something. And many photos of all the stages of their lives. The twins appear in the hospital room in their pink and blue baby hats, my older son in the kindergarten graduation uniform, my older daughter holding her favorite Barbie dolls are just a few examples. My parents appear in a black and white photo by the sea and my young niece in a lovely red dress when she was six months old. Many other photos keep me smiling for an hour, bits and pieced of my life. How can I move around without them? I keep them on my lap until I have the courage to decide if they go to the left. I will need another session of deep down delving. I postpone the whole task for another day.