The case of the unlivable living room. After Walsh helps Ashley purge a rack's worth of unworn clothes, mother and daughter's common area becomes an airier—and far neater—space for relaxing.
"You won't be saying that in a few hours," Walsh deadpans.
And so the nitty-gritty begins. Walsh walks confidently toward the metal rack. "Does this thing make you feel relaxed?"
"No," Ashley says.
"So let's get rid of it. You will keep things you look great in, things that fit you now, and things you love to wear. The rest goes."
As Walsh holds up each item, Ashley makes the calls and Esther provides moral support: "Stay." ("It does look really good on you, honey.") "Go." ("Good job.") "Love that." ("Me, too!") "This can go."
As Ashley releases this last item, Esther moves to claim it: "Ooh, I'll take that!"
Walsh's head whips in Mom's direction. "Step away," he says.
A startled Esther hastily retreats.
When the rack is clear, it's time to move on to the junk piled on either side of the sofa; if it goes away, Walsh theorizes, Esther could put her papers in tidy magazine files and keep them in that space. The stuff to be cleared consists of old books, magazines, a cornucopia of dusty knickknacks, a musical instrument shrouded in a padded case (it turns out to be Ashley's enormous cello; "You couldn't play the flute?" Walsh jokes), and other bits and bobs. Ashley easily parts with the bulk of the books and tchotchkes, but when she arrives at a collection of stories she received from Esther, she hesitates.
"It was a gift from my mom," she pleads.
"That's not a good reason," Walsh says.
"What?" Esther says.
"Does your mother love you?" Walsh asks.
"Yes," Ashley says.
"Is that love contingent upon this book staying?"
Ashley pauses. "No."
"Her having a place for her things will generate more closeness than your feeling obligated to keep one book," Walsh says.
Ashley's eyes widen: Houston, we have a breakthrough. Suddenly she's casting off her possessions like some kind of crazed monk.
Next: Organizing your closet