“No joy.” I slumped in my home office, groping outdated-school forms, Marie Kondo style, with tears of frustration in my eyes. I’d been playing catch-up this whole year instead of purging, and I’d amassed enough junk to fill every crevice in my home so I embraced the organizing guru’s advice.

Before my life became a kid-filled daily grind, I made scrapbooks and filled memorabilia boxes – I loved harvesting memories. But time, the cruel beast, rendered me too busy and therefore unable to wrangle my collectibles into a lean, organized system. These items were encroaching on me, so they had to go.

“Mommy, where is my Fancy Nancy book?” my kindergartner popped into my home-office and whined. I felt like I’d barely made a dent as I looked around at the massive piles.

“I’ll find it.” I threw my hands in the air, took a deep breath, and proceeded to touch each item first and then because I felt no joy, I chucked the cluttery offenders into the trash. I should’ve felt better like a weight was lifted, but I felt anxious. I was determined to procure a joy-sparking object, something, anything so that, amidst the culling, I could keep some trinkets free of guilt. But, nothing.

I came upon my eldest’s prized school essay. I caressed it, sure that joy was lurking in her prose.

“I’ll be scrupulous,” I yelled to the gods hugging the paper.

A strange feeling invaded my body. Joy? No, chest pang. Kondo hadn’t described this sensation that appeared when I read her thoughtful words. I felt something, but it wasn’t joy, so I made a new pile instead of exiling it to the trash…


Holly Rizzuto Palker


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