Gotham Diary:
Can’t Live Without
14 December 2018

ΒΆ The clutter in the foyer has been reduced by half, but even I can’t see the difference, because the room is still a mess. And the dining table, which was already a fright, is now only marginally usable for its intended purpose.

It may get worse before it gets better. Most of what remains to be dealt with is paper, but there is an ABC Carpet shopping bag β€” itself made out of carpeting β€” that is stuffed with “components,” odds and ends of an electrical nature. I hope to be able to dispose of most of these items, but I’m afraid that my hope is based entirely on ignorance. Once I dig in, I’ll find things that I “can’t live without.”

Where do we learn, so to speak, that we “can’t live without” things that we never use, never even see? I blame Robinson Crusoe, where everything comes in handy sooner or later. 

Then there are some really big photographs of the original me. My parents had a studio portrait of me taken when I was eleven months old. It’s a cute picture, but it’s huge, the sort of thing that people used to display on piano lids. (If I inscribed it and had it framed, visitors would probably find it more disconcerting than droll.) There are two others, only slightly smaller, that appear to be enlargements of pictures that my parents took, some time earlier I should say. One shows me lying on their bed on my back, the other in my crib on my tummy. Unlike the studio portrait, in which I at least can discern signs of the Santa to come, the enlargements show a generic infant who is neither remarkably ugly nor winningly adorable. Frankly, I see elements of my character in these photos, too β€” the pain-in-the-ass elements.

Whenever I get to the last page of Edward Gorey’s The Curious Sofa, I think of my mother at the moment when she realized that she, too, had made a terrible mistake. 

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