A home is like a reservoir equipped with a check valve: the valve permits influx but prevents outflow. If you happen to be a writer, readers send whatever may be cluttering up their own lives; I had a man once send me a chip of wood that showed the marks of a beaver's teeth.
Acquisition goes on night and day smoothly, subtly, imperceptibly. Someone dies, and a little trickle of indestructible keepsakes appears, to swell the flood.
My wife and I diligently sorted and discarded things from day to day, and packed other objects for the movers, but a sixroom apartment holds as much paraphernalia as an aircraft carrier.
You can whittle away at it, but to empty the place completely takes real ingenuity and great staying power.
On one of the mornings of disposal, a man from a second-hand bookstore visited us, bought several hundred books, and told us of the death of his brother, the word "cancer" exploding in the living room like a time bomb detonated by his grief.
Even after he had departed with his heavy load, there seemed to be almost as many books as before, and twice as much sorrow.
He picked up the nickname "Andy" at Cornell, where tradition confers that moniker on any student surnamed White, after Cornell co-founder Andrew Dickson White.
White was born in Mount Vernon, New York and graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1921.
While at Cornell, he worked as editor of The Cornell Daily Sun with classmate Allison Danzig, who later became a sportswriter for The New York Times.
White was also a member of the Quill and Dagger society, a semi-secret honor society that recognized members for their leadership, honor, and dedication to service.