‘Goodbye to Forty-Eighth Street’, by E.B. White – review

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To come upon E.B White’s essay “Goodbye to Forty-Eighth Street” could not have been more opportune than at the time when I was in the middle of sorting out flotsam and jetsam of the paraphernalia that imperceptibly commandeered in my dilapidated apartment over the years. The logistics of moving from one place to another is, I think, really a Herculean task of clearing the famously filthy Augean stables; you have to decide which ones to discard or bring along with to your new habitat, which you would not find easier than you presumed. Then there comes the physical exertion of putting the stuff into boxes or thrash bags before movers come and have those lucky select items of yours shipped out to your new domicile. In peculiar synchronicity of literature, White’s musings on this task of dispensing the contents of  the apartment chimes the bells of my feelings and thoughts in tandem.

I ditto to White’s witty comparison of a home to a “reservoir equipped with a check valve that permits influx but prevents outflux” on account of its being filled up with the detritus of the sundry things that have come to me and clung to me even though many of them escaped my radar of affection quite a long time ago. Maybe I don’t have the guts to throw it all away, but as those things now all of sudden show me a phantasmagorical display of the memories of how they came to me, it’s most likely that I will bring them with me to my new place.  I believe that whatever you have possessed for a long time or wherever you have lived for long, you have ingrained a vestige of your spirit, your inner part in them, willed or unwilled. It’s called “place memories,” imprinting part of you to the outside of your world. Thus you become part of that something, and that something part of you.  Come to think of it, wouldn’t these place memories also become ghosts themselves in haunted places?… Just a thought.

The solitary process of upending the apartment would have been brutally lonely and cruelly vexing were it not for my fortuitous reading of the essay by Mr. Whites whose own moving experience strikes the chords with me. That’s the joy of reading: you get a fresh viewpoint of your own matters, making you feel you are not alone in it. With this uplifted encouragement, I shall complete the Aegean task of moving out before heading for my new sunshine destination in less than a month.

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