Dear mom, I figured I ought to write you on the occasion of your birth anniversary, as I often do. That your birthday actually falls in January is a serendipitous blessing — my letters to you have doubled as past-year recaps and forward-looking missives. After all these years, this day has come to stand as a reminder to both look back and look forward — you’re still here, this way. Past, future and present.
Anyway. You’d be surprised to know that, after a decade or so, I started writing this from an empty desk. As you must have already heard by now, I recently moved jobs, and my desk, being new, is clean.
You weren’t at all particular about the state of my desk at home, or even my room for that matter— I remember it used to be this unkempt pile of books and notebooks and brown envelopes filled with yellow paper and print-outs. I rarely saw the surface of that desk — I don’t even remember how it looked like bare. Still, I remember spending late nights hunched over that corner in my room, just trying to get things out of the way, day after day.
I admit that, not being a very organized person, seeing the actual surface of my desk is a new and somewhat jarring experience; I mean, I haven’t even yet started to mess it up, and already I feel guilty that I will be, for sure.
More than being a warning, watching a clean desk also feels like staring at a muted call to accumulate. That’s the hardest thing about moving, actually — it’s not the relocation per se (although that in itself held its own difficulties) but the shedding. I haven’t even fully processed yet all that shedding that had to be done — eleven years, after all, was a long time to spend collecting things. Perhaps it was the nature of the job — nothing was ever thrown away. A review of my files brought me back to Day 1, 2005, and I’m not even kidding.
Editorial cartoon, February 2, 2017