I brought my bike to the fix-up place the other day. It’d been sitting outside my friend’s shop for a few months, teens had picked off the saddle, the back wheel rubbed against the brake with every rotation. Still, I thought better to fix it than replace it. But as it turns out, cheaper to replace. Too broken and rusted, and me too rushed to please so I handed it over and left the place smiling, lighter and bikeless. Only then did I remember carting the dog around in her buggy with it, when her legs would buckle under her decreasing weight but she still deserved to smell the park. Cycling up a big hill in Cathcart, a man trimming his hedge shouting with joy when he saw it was a dog in there, not a baby.

This isn’t some half-flung screed against “late stage capitalism” leeching into my brain, it is a cry against me. When I handed the bike over, I forgot what value means, and let her die again. No ethical consumption yada yada but who’s talking about unethical giving up, cajoled or flippant or unthinking? This feigned martyrdom is the greatest sin in my eye – we are donating so much away to time, or capacity, or deleting photos when our phones’ memories are full. The sea is always nibbling away at the places where we dare to build on its border, but we do not have to give in to its asceticism. 

Yes I have survivor’s guilt, I do not shy away from it. My family, despite their protestations to the contrary, are dying. So too are my communities, some murdered, some forced into slumber. I am shrinking and I am shirking the responsibility I have to being alive. This wasn’t just a bike. How hastily I rid myself of it makes me sick to my stomach, the throwawayability of inconvenience, the push always for weightlessness, no baggage.

I’m still trying to find the Thing that will make everything OK and bearable: balance. But I know I want to hoard and make myself heavy with each memory and object. I’m making a promise: I will burden myself with everything that has ever touched me. I will never again give away a single thing, do not ask.