I realized today, as I inspected another bent rib, that it’s about time I invest in a new umbrella.

I’ve had this one for about six years. That’s a pretty good run for a free umbrella. When I worked at the RIT Tech Crew in college, we have a line of coat hooks on the wall that was also home to a handful of abandoned sweatshirts and umbrellas. One rainy day, I figured that if the umbrella hadn’t been claimed in the past two years, it was up for grabs. And that umbrella has served me well for six years.

It’s weird, though, how I come to see some objects as companions. Not like, “This umbrella is my friend!” More like, this umbrella has gone places with me. It has seen things in the past six years. This sense is more pronounced with other items: in particular, I love wearing shoes that I took on our honeymoon. It’s nice to know that in the treads of those hiking shoes there might still be some dirt from St. Lucia. Those shoes have gone places with me! They’ve seen the world!

With that in mind, it’s somewhat strange how much joy I take in throwing things out. I love moving to new apartment, mostly because it means I get to purge and throw out and donate whole bunch of old stuff. Before I do, though, I still entertain thoughts like this: I think about the park I sat in when I read this book, or the important job interview to which I wore that shirt, or all the intramural hockey games where I wore those skates and swung that stick. Our stuff becomes important to us—or at least, it does to me.