Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures

The Purge


Packing may be my first love, but getting rid of stuff is a close second. The feeling of calm and accomplishment I get from tightly fitting things into a box is different from the slightly weightless tipsy sensation of seeing a pile of things I will no longer be burdened by, but both are very pleasant.

Mid-purge. It ended up taller than me and several feet wide.

Mid-purge. It ended up taller than me and several feet wide.

Inspired by my slightly sad looking towel hanging in the bathroom, I decided to do a mini-purge the other day. Because I am a sinvengüenza, here is a partial list of the things I got rid of in my first pass:

8 pairs of shoes
7 pairs of jeans
6 pairs of pants
5 pairs of gloves
4 scarves
3 dresses
3 jackets
3 belts
2 yoga mats
2 purses
assorted fitted sheets
assorted towels (bath, hand and kitchen)

You might think that it’s excessive that I had all of these things to spare and you would be right, but I do have a legitimate excuse. Being an itinerant expat means that every time I go to a new country or city, I take only the luggage that I’m allowed, usually just one medium suitcase. This means that I’ve had to re-buy most of the things I use every day at least four times in the past decade.

For instance, when I land in a new city, I have a high absorbency towel with me, but I don’t want to use that for the rest of my life, so then I have to go out and buy two new proper towels. (One must always have a spare.) Once all my boxed stuff catches up with me (usually months later), I suddenly have a lot more towels. Ditto yoga mats and big spa bath robes of which I apparently owned THREE. And I’m a person who gets cold easily and I like to bundle so I had SIX full size fleece blankets and three throws. I now have two of each. Add in that US, Spanish and French mattresses are ALL DIFFERENT sizes and the result is that I also owned lots of sheets that likely won’t fit any bed I’ll ever sleep on again.

Purging isn’t for everyone (like my mother who will be pissed that I’m outing her as a hoarder on the Internet) but I do think it’s a good practice and is generally good for society. If you’re daunted by the task, start small, like in the closet and see how it goes.

Le cul’s clothes purging tips

If it’s over 10 years old, OUT
If it’s faded, worn thin in patches or has required repeated button-sewing-on, OUT
If it’s suited to a situation you no longer find yourself in, OUT
If you can only remember one time you wore it, OUT
If you bought it for a specific occasion, OUT
If it was a never-worn gift, OUT
If you have a newer item that serves the same purpose, OUT
If you haven’t worn that size in four years, OUT
If it’s dry clean only, OUT

Following these pretty basic and reasonable guidelines, I think anyone could make a significant dent in the amount of crap they have. Happy sorting!

[Ed.: I haven’t seen THE PURGE because I don’t like scary movies but I know it’s a thing that exists.]

Author: le cul en rows

I'm an American Spaniard, living in France. I like to tell stories.

4 thoughts on “The Purge

  1. I also find purging liberating. We did a major purge before moving to Paris as we didn’t want to store anything we wouldn’t use ever again. We are also much more careful when we buy things so that we don’t start accumulating stuff again that we will need to purge eventually. Good post and I like your purging rules. (Suzanne)

    • When I left the US, there was still a chance that I would go back so I kept many things that I wouldn’t have had I known. As people came to visit, they’d bring boxes of my stuff with them and I still haven’t lived in a place where I’ve been able to unpack everything, so I have a lot of versions of exactly the same thing. In hindsight, I would have kept less than half of what I did. In future-sight, I still want to purge about a third of my stuff.

  2. Wow that’s… still a lot. I still wear stuff more than ten years old (I presume then it doesn’t count?) and I won’t be getting rid of my recent special-occasion dry-clean-only dress from last October until I can bear it, but generally, yes – good stuff. I had a mini purge and got rid of about half what you’ve piled up and I thought I was doing well but now…?

    • I’m both heartless and lazy, so for me, the 10-year rule stands, ESPECIALLY if I wear something all the time b/c then it’s definitely worn in places. And I both hate going to the dry cleaners and delicate fabrics, so that rule is more about making my life easier than anything else.

      And don’t feel bad: no one can purge as quickly or as ruthlessly as I can. I decided after the first day that I wanted to get rid of a third of my possessions just ’cause and I got very close. It felt AWESOME.

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