Since I'm moving to another part of Brooklyn, most of my things are in garbage bags. I carried the heavy items out weeks ago, the table and chairs, the heavy wooden planter that Sam set under the photograph of a clothesline at dusk, the shirts blown full with the breeze. The super helped carry the deep blue couch with the coral and turquoise pattern on its armrests that reminded us of shutters in Santa Fe. When I finally set the couch on the cement and lowered my arms, nothing was easier than turning and walking away.
I stacked a pile of books in the window. I have to keep the thick ones with the familiar names, no one would take my copies anyway. One summer in Paris, the only time I've ever been to Europe, I cut my copy of “War and Peace” in half so my bag would rest lighter on my shoulder. I still have both halves. I haven't read the books without coffee stains on their covers, without sentences rewritten in the margins, and dog-eared pages. Many of those books went to the curb, all the ones with too many “I”s in the first paragraph and crisp white pages.
I took my dresses off the hangers and folded them flat. Most are cotton sundresses with spaghetti straps. The hems fall mid-thigh, so I can feel the air against my knees as I'm walking. After my first summer in New York, I exchanged dresses with bright colors for darker ones. Fewer comments on the street. The shape stayed the same. I folded the other clothes into piles, and when they started to lean, made a pile of throwaways. The throwaway pile included sweaters whose knit had come undone (they would only further unravel) and the dense navy sweater that lost its softness when I accidentally washed it with the others.
I reluctantly dropped the gold and black sandals I wore everyday last summer into the trash can. I considered reaching back in for them, but I closed the lid instead. The sandals’ straps were held together by safety pins and the soles had worn so thin I could feel the uneven surface of the sidewalk. If I had taken the sandals to a cobbler sooner, maybe the straps could have been reattached, but the fabric disintegrated. The pieces no longer reach each other.
Each summer I fall in love with one pair of hopelessly delicate sandals and walk for miles each day in them. When I have nothing else to do, I walk; when I am lonely, I walk; when I don't understand, I walk. I look at the tops of buildings and what little I can see of the sky. My chin is always raised in the city. I miss looking straight and seeing sky. I used to buy white garbage bags, and now I buy black ones. I say (to myself, because no one else notices the color of my trash bags) that I switched because the black ones are more durable. That is true. It is also harder to see the outlines of objects I've thrown away.