Monday, September 12, 2005

Hating your Stuff

Before I put things in boxes I’m trying to make sure that everything I pack is something I want. I read an article about decluttering that said “If an item doesn’t serve you or bring you joy, get rid of it”.
That’s all well and good, I guess. The article didn’t go on to say “If an item represents an important milestone in your life and has meaning but for the most part takes up space in a manner that is inefficient and irritating, you should do THIS with it…”, which is really what I need.
I have no less than twelve race shirts. Most people who’ve done a bunch of races get very blasé about shirts; they go immediately from the goodie bag to the pile of shirts one wears when cleaning the gutters, with perhaps one wearing to a social event in between. But what of the shirts from my first year of actual fitness, the shirts from my ascent from the couch potato bin to the starting line? Can’t ditch those. Just can’t. So I folded them more neatly, which (I reasoned) made them take up less space, and back in the drawer they went, with some blessing uttered over them regarding a deep-drawer shirt wearing rotation that I promised to implement.
I policed the ‘unmentionables’, making a pile of underthings obviously purchased on a day when I was feeling naughty and oblivious to peripheral concerns like comfort or blood circulation. (Hint: If its bigger than a C you have no business pushing it in any direction other than down and in. Up and together, as quoted in the ‘Holy Grail’, is right out.) I disposed of a pile of linty bandannas from an era that also saw horn-rimmed glasses the size of Direct TV dishes and acid washed jeans as part of my ensemble. The sock pairs I’d made from singles that lost their mates but were passably similar (Step-socks, if you will)
Now to the closet, aka the guilt racks. Tons of pants given to me by an Orthodox friend who no longer wears pants. Dresses, origin unknown. Stuff I was grateful for but never really wanted. All of these went in plastic bags for Goodwill. Someone might want a short sleeved, brocaded wool dress. I do not. I’ve come to terms with this. It was like losing twenty pounds instantly, denuding those hangers and stuffing those items in bags. I can hardly wait to plow through piles of uncomfortable kitten heels and ill-advised purses and fill another bag. Or three.
There are still corners where sentiment lurks, little squirrel nests of memories, little cutesy cards and photos and doo-dads made for me by this or that child, especially mushy birthday cards stuck between things that I can’t part with. I’m not ready to come to terms with the rubber banded stacks of photos from my 10th Grade Band trip, or the August 2004 Vacation scrapbook that taunts me from a brown paper bag in the bedroom, all the happiness and good intention scattered in pieces like the Scarecrow by a flock of malicious flying monkeys. I will put it together. I will.


Michele said...
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Shieldmaiden96 said...

Now, look here. So the loose sweats and red thong were a bad combo. Not an intentional combo. Just a bad combo. Lesson learned.

Aunt Carol said...

Ah yes, the process of reviewing and purging one's life and posessions... I remember it well (especially since I did it twice in one year, the first being after 27 years in the same place). Those T-shirts DO serve you and bring you joy... they are tangible trophies of your ability to take power and control of your life, to set lofty goals you don't think you're capable of (or worthy of) and then achieving them. Whether or not you ever wear them again, they will serve you well, just like my "under the bed" case of cotton/polyester trophies celebrating the Bicentennial, Hands Across America,professional milestone events, standing next to Marion Wright Edelman and Rosy O'Donnell on the mall in Washington to Stand for Children, a visit to the Akwesasne Freedom School on the Mohawk Reservation, an endless succession of reminders of places I've been and things I've seen. Then there is the hand tie-died T-shirt with no pictures and no words that says more than all of the others.
Your T-shirt collection is your autobiography. It is your Red Badge of Courage and your trophy case. You have earned every fiber of celebration in that drawer. Those old shirts have made you who you are. They will serve you by always reminding you of the stuff of which you are made. On the days when you are tired and frustrated and not sure of your path, all you have to do is pull out your T-shirts, run your hand over the silk screened words and images and be reminded of your priorities and what you value in life. They will serve as a directional sign on your path and a testiment to your strength and resolve when it comes to defending what you value ~ and that's not a small thing. Your trophy case may end up in a storage box under the bed, but always keep it near you.

bohemiann said...

Just an idea, but I could show you how to make a nifty bouquet of flowers with all those t-shirts...or if you don't wish to wear the shirts anymore, you could cut out the important parts of the shirts, and make a quilt out of them. That'd be cool! You could also randomly sew them all together and make a nifty duvet cover...or an interesting wall hanging...a shower curtain.
Like you, I am sorting through clothes...mostly tops, and I have to sort through everything before we move. It's so hard to focus on organizing when the outdoors beckons me, the new windsurfer taunts me temptingly, and the dog implores me to take her for a walk.
I'm loving reading your blog. You are one of the most creative writers I have ever met...Bryan being also in that category of most favorite writers. You both inspire me.