Amie Richardson: Why I need to declutter

It’s time to declutter, but Amie Richardson’s heart isn’t in it – and neither are her books.
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It’s time to declutter, but Amie Richardson’s heart isn’t in it – and neither are her books.

OPINION: I'll just be a minute," I say to the boys and my mum as I slam the car door. "I just need a couple of things."

In the entrance to the supermarket I reject the trolley and basket and glide around the aisles like a sea serpent – tentacles outstretched grabbing at milk, bread, apples, bananas, something for dinner, something for lunch. I balance the objects precariously on top of each other, fingers hooking into handles and gripping at lids. 

Just before I reach the counter, I run into a friend who wants to chat. I struggle with my load, trying to extricate myself from hugs and proposed catch-up dates. The boys and mum are in the car, I'm holding 15kg of items, I know I've forgotten something and my mobile is now ringing. 

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This is my world. Juggling groceries. Juggling boys and work. Juggling deadlines with playdates, catching up with friends with exercise, seeing family with housework. My life is an endless to-do list with no big ticks, while my home is a shrine to washing where odd socks go to die. 

But today I am saying no more. I am cleansing my life and it starts with my garage. 

Minimalism. It's so hip. I am on a mission to declutter my home and, by extension, my mind. 

With this I can be ruthless. I need to rid myself of all this stuff. Boxes are stacked up against the garage door, furniture, appliances, toys, books. 

More books and more books. Since 1998 when I moved out of my mum's house, I have carted boxes and boxes of books between flats, cities and islands and back home again to Broad Bay, Dunedin. I look at the boxes with a mixture of loyalty and loathing. 

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Every book offers a memory. My favourite novel as a teenager. My mother Paddy's first collection of short stories that I have read countless times. 

My copy of Ulysses (yes I've read it and yes I feel important) complete with notes in the margins. The various Hemingway novels purchased from an English bookstore in Como when my late husband Wayne and I were desperate to see anything written in our language. And that's just the garage. Inside the house, every surface has a book, at least one. 

Minimalism experts advise assessing each book on its own merits. En masse, you can't imagine letting any of them go. But individually... It's time to divide and conquer. 

So here it begins. I pick up the box of books to transport them to the house for assessment and the bottom falls out. Memories fall to the ground like crumbling cake. 

I take it as a sign to start tomorrow.  

 - Stuff

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