Friday, May 22, 2015

Sparkle Week

It’s Sparkle Week in Lambertville. The city has promised to take away whatever we put out. All over town attics are being emptied, cellars are disgorging their contents onto the sidewalk, scavengers are collecting treasures, dreams are ending, and marriages are breaking up. Fortunately I have just been reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, by Marie Kondo, and so my marriage is safe. As Harold trundles curbward with armful after armful of formerly beloved craft supplies, decorating objects, building materials, and broken furniture, I am able to smile serenely. I thank the objects for whatever they brought to my life, and I let them go. My soul is Japanese. Sort of. Anyway I successfully resist the urge to grab them and haul them back.

Serenity is not the attitude everywhere in town. Some residents are suspicious and resentful of the scavengers, who come from far and wide in broken-down trucks to carry away our unwanted stuff. One resident complained that they root through the piles of discards like bears, throwing what they don’t want into the street. Well, that won’t do. Our streets are narrow enough as it is. Others mutter darkly that things you do want might be carried away along with your unwanted things. Better clear off the porch, just in case. Nevertheless all my porch furniture was still here this morning, along with my cookie jar. Somebody ate the last cookie, but I think that was Harold.

It’s good that people are taking this stuff away and keeping it out of the landfill. And there's no telling what scavengers might want. One box that Harold put out was clearly marked, “Broken Junk.” There were hard drives in there which he had beaten on with a hammer. Heaven knows what else. I didn’t dare look. What if I wanted to keep one of the junk things? Let it go. Wouldn't you know, that box was one of the first items to be taken. Harold had a good laugh over that.

I wouldn’t let him get rid of the puppet stage. Most likely I’ll never put on another show, nor will the children or grandchildren be interested in marionettes, since marionettes aren’t digital, but I loved it when he made it for me. It’s such an elegant thing. This is one of the problems with throwing things out. Yes, it’s useless; yes, it’s taking up valuable space; but it represents a dream of future achievement. I could put on a great show sometime. (Or not. Some of the pieces are missing.)

As for the crumbling marriages occasioned by this annual ritual, the signs are everywhere. Things carried out to the curb only to be carried back in again. Things carried in from other neighbors’ piles only to be carried back out and put back. I shudder to think of the arguments that must be taking place behind closed doors. In the back yard, I overheard this:

“Does Mommy know you're throwing that chair away?” “It's broken.” You know there will be trouble over that.

© 2015 Kate Gallison


  1. Why is it called Sparkle week??? tjs

    1. Because after we throw our trash out our houses are sparkly clean. I guess that's it. It's an old Lambertville tradition. I read somewhere that the Italians have had something like that going for many years as a New Years tradition.