The Marie Kondo trend seems on the surface to be about tidiness, but I think the root problem of clutter is shopping. When I had a big house I loved to shop, and I didn’t think about being a hoarder because I had plenty of space for my stuff. But when I sold my house and planned to move to a much smaller place, the process of getting rid of my possessions was like breaking an addiction. It took months and it was stressful. Now here I am, a shopaholic living in a studio apartment with everything I own in one room.
Living in a tiny place gives me focus, freedom, and time to do things I enjoy. But not shopping. That’s a habit I have to kick. I still crave stuff. I walk past the windows of a furniture store and decorative throw pillows call out to me. “Billie, think how good I would look on your bed.” I don’t have the closet space for more clothes or the kitchen space for more gadgets, but I hear their voices. “You would be so much cooler if you owned me.” Discount stores entice me to forage for the best deals on shoes, even though I only have two feet and they spend most of their time under my desk.
Last summer I bought a pretty little black dress that would have fit perfectly into my New York City lifestyle. But I don’t live in New York City anymore. I live in Portland, Oregon, where tattoos are more popular than little black dresses. Now she hangs silently in my closet. I’ve only worn her once. That seems to happen a lot. The things I buy call out to me with the lure of eternal coolness. Then I bring them home and forget about them. Tag sales draw me into the treasure hunt for cheap stuff. Old crystal and mismatched china speak to me in the voice of my grandmother. “Remember me.” I check my wallet for cash and promise myself I’ll buy only very small things. Then I find a cut glass toothpick holder twinkling in the sun and on the way home I have to buy the toothpicks to go with it.
Yes, the KonMari Method has taught me appreciation for my possessions. I thank my apartment for being easy to clean. I fold my clothes in perfect rectangles. Then yesterday a red leather chair called out to me as I passed the window of a style emporium, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how good it would look on my rug. When I came home, I thanked my blue chair for being such a good chair, and tried to explain why she no longer gave me joy, but she burst into tears before I could finish. Now I’m waiting for Marie Kondo’s sequel — The Life-Changing Magic of Not Buying Stuff.