One Million Things

I keep having dreams about big shopping centres and huge shops like Ikea. I think this is because I’m spending a lot of time on Cold Light and the main character works in a shopping centre, and she is also remembering several important events that happened in Debenhams, of all places.

And in advance of the McTiny’s arrival there were several real-life trips to Ikea to buy chairs and cots and things. All pregnant women have to wander around Ikea getting sweaty and angry in the last month of their confinement. It’s in the rules, or something.

And I was looking through a box of old handwritten stories under my bed, partly to make some space and partly because I wanted to scan a story that I’d written when I was about nine and send it to Socrates for Other magazine. I chucked out a lot of it, and I was worried about that, like I’d done something wrong, or foolish, but then actually felt good about it and wanted to throw more of my things out.

I don’t know exactly what it is. Every few months I have an urge to throw out lots of my possessions and I feel oppressed by how many things I have. We’ve been thinking about buying a house, and it seems silly to me to buy an entire building just to keep stuff in, when that means you’ve got to spend more of your time arranging and dusting the stuff and wandering around Debenhams and Ikea to buy shelves and boxes and Storage Solutions in order to keep the stuff in and the dust out. A lot of the time I know I’d prefer a tent or a van just so I didn’t need to wonder about what colour curtains to get.

So I have been dreaming about Ikea. About trying to ask the Mr to buy me a wardrobe, but feeling embarrassed about it, so asking him in a secret code, and him not understanding.

I am embarrassed, generally, by my need for wardrobes.

And still thinking about all those stories under the bed, how they felt like they were worth keeping – that I or someone else would want to read them again, and how you’ve got to have a silly amount of arrogance in order to want to add to the amount of stuff in the world. To make your words into a physical object and then spend time storing and dusting and arranging it. It struck me with a kind of silence and I suddenly felt I didn’t have anything I wanted to say badly enough that would mean someone would have to go and wander around Ikea and buy a bookcase to keep it in. I felt like if I was to delete everything and chuck away all my possessions I’d feel good about it.

I have been here before, of course. The only thing to do is to shut up and keep typing. 

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