The urge to start turfing my belongings hit me when I got home from India. I'd like to say it was inspired by a newfound anti-materialistic attitude, but mainly it was to do with being broke and having time on my hands.
I started by collecting clothes that I thought I could sell (I used to work in retail, so there were a lot of these). Then I realised that getting rid of stuff felt really good, so I turned to the rest of my bedroom. I started chucking things with reckless abandon. I would look at something, narrow my eyes and, with pleasure, throw it on the top of a pile. Belts! When was the last time I wore a belt? The birthday cards sitting on my dresser - I'd already read them, hadn't I? Out they went.
I made a pile of things that I wanted to sell and a pile of things I wanted to take to the op shop. There was a fine line between the two; if I wasn't sure, it went to the op shop. Selling things online is a finicky business.
When I was done with my bedroom, I moved on to other areas of my house. I found random appliances in the laundry. Tubs of childhood mementoes in the attic. There was no method to my madness. It was kind of addictive, like peeling off sunburnt skin. There was so much that could be chucked; so much fat that could be trimmed.
I made the mistake of proudly mentioning what I was doing to friends in a group chat. They suggested we hold a "swap" where everybody could exchange things they didn't want anymore. One man's trash, et cetera.
And then the whole process started to hurt a little bit.
It dawned on me that getting rid of your belongings is kind of like going through a break-up. I didn't want this stuff anymore, but I didn't want anyone else to have it either - least of all my friends. I didn't want to go to their houses and see them wearing the T-shirt that used to make me feel on top of the world. I didn't want to eat the yoghurt that they'd made using the very yoghurt maker that I myself had failed to make yoghurt with (sure, I don't even eat dairy these days, but still).
Because with our stuff goes our unfulfilled dreams and plans. We are forced to confront the fact that we will never actually make yoghurt. For some reason we will never again love that T-shirt. We will never read that giant literary classic, never find a way to make those shell-encrusted boots work with our wardrobe, never use that painting kit to become a watercolour artist.
I also realised, as I looked down at the contents of my now very full car boot, that I could tell the story behind every single item in there. I remembered exactly how and when and where and why I had procured each thing.
But the truth is that we truly are better off without a lot of our ex-precious belongings. And it's not as if we'll totally forget about them: there will probably be a moment, somewhere down the line, when the clouds will be a particular shade of white that reminds you of your yoghurt maker, and how happy it made you feel, if only for an instant.
Maybe just hold onto the birthday cards, because when your boyfriend comes in and sees his carefully handwritten card in the recycling bin, his wounded face will make you feel a pinch of regret.