I made quite a bit of progress this week in sorting through my stuff in an effort to eliminate everything I don’t love/use. I am excited to share that I have now gone through every room on the main level of my house. Notice I didn’t say I am *finished* going through each room; I know myself — I will get the urge to purge (nice catchphrase) again and probably even again, and I will find more things to sell or throw away or donate.

Some things were oh so easy to throw away. The bag of 299 rubber bands that I was forced to buy 2 winters ago when I had to have 1 rubber band. Yes, I had to have it; the instructions for whatever I was doing at the time clearly said a rubber band must be used, so off I went to the dollar store to purchase a bag of rubber bands. I haven’t used even one of the remaining 299 rubber bands in over 24 months, so I threw caution to the wind and tossed them in the white plastic bag I was using for things to be discarded. I did the same thing with 4 plastic rulers — 1 apiece with each of my offspring’s names on them and 2 spares; that leaves me with one very nice wooden ruler for my measuring and line-making needs. Other items met a similarly quick move to either the plastic bag or the “sell” pile in the spare bedroom.

A few items required a slightly more consideration. Interestingly, though, it wasn’t the cost of the item or even its usefulness that slowed down the decision-making process. When I first picked up the stack of 5 unpainted wooden frames, just the right size for 4 x 6 snapshots, I instinctively placed them in the “sell” pile. But when I turned to take the next item out of my “projects” cabinet, something made me stop and reconsider those frames. I remembered getting them for next to nothing at a store closing sale 5 or 6 years ago, planning to paint them and . . . well, you get the idea. The purger-me said, “You haven’t painted these in 5 or 6 years, and let’s be honest, you probably won’t do it now!” The crafter-me quickly responded with, “Yes, but once I get settled in my next home, I am *finally* going to create that wall collage of favorite family snapshots, and these will work great for that. So there!” When I retrieved the frames from the sell pile, I noticed the little easel mechanism on back and saw that they aren’t wall frames after all. Decision made — they stayed in the sell pile.

I continued working my way through my projects cabinet, gaining momentum until I came to an item — or rather, group of items — I’ve pondered more than a few times the past few years. I know I don’t need 25+ fine point black Sharpie markers. In the past 5 years, I’ve used exactly 1 fine point black Sharpie marker, and that was to label packing boxes when I moved. Other than that, the Sharpies go unused. It should be so easy to toss them in the “donate” pile, but I hesitated nonetheless.

They aren’t a reminder of unfinished projects; instead, they were my husband’s. He wasn’t a hoarder, but there were certain things that he would say “you can never have too many of”, and one of those things (obviously) was fine point black Sharpie markers (others were screwdrivers, nuts/bolts/screws, and batteries). I worked around them, considering every other item in the cabinet before coming back to them. I put them in the donate pile; I retrieved them and put them back in the cabinet; I did that a few more times. I held them in my hands and considered them as carefully as if they were cute pieces of costume jewelry.

Silly? Maybe. I can’t explain it, but sometimes it’s the small things that are most difficult to consider rationally, to place in the sell pile or even the trash. When I read somewhere a few months ago that keeping a deceased loved one’s toothbrush is quite common, I nodded in recognition. I’ve never shared this with anyone, but in a white jewelry bag at the back of my lingerie drawer is my husband’s last toothbrush. I never take it out and look at it; I simply cannot bring myself to throw it away. Not yet.

But I can throw away the Sharpies — and I did. I retrieved a rubber band from the small bag in the trash bag (okay, I’ve technically used 2 of them now, but I still threw away the remaining 298) and bundled all but 3 of the Sharpies. Still not quite trusting myself not to retrieve them yet again, I carried them out to the large trash bin in the garage; something would have to be very, very important for me to dig through the trash in there. And yes, I hesitated one more time. But I did it. I threw them away.

And I cried when I got back inside the house.