I used to think I was sort of minimalist in what I owned. My house, compared to many others I’ve seen, has far too many books but not otherwise a lot of clutter. I had entire rooms that I thought were close to empty. A guest room with nothing in it but a few chairs and lamps. A front room with a chair, a footstool, and three bookcases. The living room with a couch, a chair, a daybed, a dresser-like television stand and a television. Seriously, not much stuff.

Oh, I was so wrong. My house is overflowing with stuff. Stuff, stuff, and more stuff.

I’m trying to balance my competing needs — to take my time looking through it and to get rid of it all as quickly and painlessly as possible. To save what I value but not get bogged down in owning (or being owned by) a lot of things. To respect my past but not wallow in it.

A long time ago, I threw away my high school yearbooks because I didn’t imagine I would ever care. I’ve regretted it since. I don’t want to figuratively do that again, but at the same time, if I owned those yearbooks right now, they would so be going in the trash. I’m trying to cut down the memorabilia to only what will fit inside my mother’s cedar chest and it is requiring me to be ruthless. R has these big thick binders, portfolios, from all of his early school years. So much art, so many stories. Math worksheets, science projects, records of field trips, photos, mementos. So much stuff! Meanwhile, I’ve got letters. I found an envelope with all the letters that R’s dad wrote to me during a year we were separated. Ugh. I’m not sure I want to read them, but I’m also not sure I want to throw them away. Letters from friends, journals from all the years that I wrote journals, baby books, high school awards, scrapbooks, photos, photos and more photos.

Being ruthless is not so easy.

However, I woke up joyful this morning and that was fun. Not joyful about cleaning out the house or the big adventure, but joyful because yesterday, while driving home from Sarasota, I figured out why I’m stuck on Grace. It means going back, but not all the way back, and — much more importantly — it means I see my way forward again. Two weeks ago I would have been so annoyed with myself at the thought of going back at all, but after days of grinding my wheels, being stuck in the mud, I’m just delighted that I’ve got an idea that might bring some movement. Yesterday, in fact, I gave myself permission to not write — it’s been a long week and I was wiped out after spending the day driving to Sarasota and back — but before I went to bed, I wrote a few sentences anyway, because I wanted to write. Wanting to write is such a good feeling!

Tomorrow I’m taking my niece to Universal and then after that spring break is over and I’ll be able to really buckle down and get back to work again. In between throwing away letters and journals and beloved books, that is.