Whirl and I have been going through our belongings—paraphernalia, equipment, gear, goods we have collected. We have lived in our current home for a little over two years now. Before we moved we culled and sorted a slightly different menagerie of items. We separated it into categories: trash, donations, gifts, keepers. The goal was to minimize the amount of stuff we would need to move from one place to the other. And as we had lived in that apartment for almost six years, we had accumulated enough stuff—stuff that we found we weren’t using—that it had completed filled every possible corner of storage space.
Our loft has very little storage space. That is by design. That makes sense to me. The idea of the loft—particularly as Whirl and I envision it—is to present a large open space. The more closets and cabinets you build, the smaller that open space shrinks. As a consequence it becomes important to keep track of your accumulated substance. We develop guidelines for what stays and what goes.
I find fascinating the choices I historically have made on that score. I can alternate at moments between maudlin sentimentalist and draconian protagonist. Clichés: If I have not used this in two years, I will not ever use it again. Protests: But that is my favorite! Negotiations: If I have to get rid of this, you have to get rid of that. Whirl and I both agree that the previously mentioned two-year guideline does not apply to books. Stephen King has defined being rich as, “When you can go out and buy the new hardcover version of a book whenever you want without having to wait for the paperback to come out.” I am not convinced that we are rich by Stephen King’s standards. Nevertheless, it is a noble rubric by which to define wealth.
Maybe that is what stiffens my spine to eject other objects from the house: I enjoy reading. Since I was a young boy, I have enjoyed reading. After the injury, my interest in reading waned. Over the last year and a half, in measured steps, I have forced myself back into reading. And I am better for it. I started with the newspaper, and in more recent months have retaken the task of reading books. You can see some of my more recent choices listed on these pages. I am uncertain as to whether I have a plan or a strategy for why I pick particular books. Obviously some of them have to do with subjects that have caught my interest at a given time—you will note the number of baseball related titles since Opening Day, as an example.
I have a particular sentimental appreciation of taking my news from the newspaper. I do not think print journalism is better; I can say that it does not suffer from the sins of video production. Maybe it appeals to a simpler time. Maybe it reminds me of my first job as a paperboy. I kept that job for five years as I was growing up: longer than I have held any job since then. I have transitioned to walking down to the corner newsstand to purchase my paper every morning. Many of my friends criticize this quirk. They choose to get their news from television and the Internet. – Even radio, another nostalgic artifact of modern life, they perceive as generally uninteresting and uninspiring.
Am I romanticizing another time? And if I am, what does that say about me? Have these past two years overwhelmed me to such a point that my quest for simplicity has taken me to the sleepy villages of newsprint, radio waves and baseball?
I’m rather torn about my bicycle. – I have not ridden it at all in almost two years. I do not think I ever will want to ride it again. I have been thinking a lot about my injury, again. The idea of getting on that thing frankly scares the hell out of me. It is a great bike—a Guerciotti racing bike, all Campagnolo and Cinelli parts. Half of its cost was a gift from my parents, the other half I paid for with my own money—earned from the newspaper route. I rode it to a silver medal in the Colorado Championship. I have ridden thousands of miles on it: races, leisure, training. Now it sits neglected, taking up space for no real reason. Other than that I feel strangely connected to it—perversely loathe to be rid of it while simultaneously unable to look at it for more than a few minutes.
Possessed as it is of magical, spiritual powers—perhaps this object, rather than the cases of books, is my fetish.