Monday, April 14, 2014

Rummaging Through

Today, I began in earnest to get rid more than a year's worth of stuff that has accumulated and is clogging my closets and drawers. I once read a collection of stories, 'The Things They Carried' by Tim O'Brien. Since then, I've believed that what a woman carries in her purse and what she puts in her underwear drawer defines her. Emergency packets of peanut butter, pepperoni, GoGo squeeZ, fingerless gloves, a rain jacket, Advil, band-aids, a compass, a pocket rock, Mike's love letters, Nick's baby footprint, ... I was going to tell you more, but I also think that how a woman defines herself in her purse and her underwear drawer is her own business. Ha! Think about it. What do you carry? What do you tuck away? Not something you're going to list, is it? Now, that's the interesting part, the stuff you're not willing to admit to having.

Does what you carry out of your house define you as well? Or maybe it helps to define what you are not. I am not that faded pair of comfortable jeans that suddenly began to fail by slowly letting the zipper down as I walked. I am not the broken toaster oven that I know Mike will never have time to fix as much as he would like to. I am not the Silver Palate cookbook or the black clogs that are a half size too small because the sales guy wanted to impress me with the idea that I could actually have feet that were smaller than they actually are. I am not the bright orange Cub Scout t-shirt or the narrow wicking yoga shirt that shows the roll around my waist.

I am not the pair of martini glasses and the shaker. In fact, I never was. I hated martinis after the first time I tried one and if I'm going to order an appletini, I might as well just order a daiquiri or even a smoothie since that's really what I wanted in the first place. My favorite mixed drinks used to be either a Kahlua and cream or gin and tonic. These days, that easily translates to a breve mocha or a lime Perrier. I don't usually miss the alcohol and I still have beer and wine when I do.

So what does it say about me that I'm giving away googly eyes, colored pencils, stickers, and an art box? What does it say that I'm giving away a beautiful baby scrap book that I never used for a single photo of Nick? I feel bad about the scrap book. I do. I have a bin full of photos that I love and would race to retrieve in a fire, but the standards for scrapbooking are too high for me. I will never make a color coordinated page, let alone a whole book out of those photos and the pretty paper I browse at Ben Franklin. Have I let Nick down?

Maybe I have, but he's not sitting around and looking at photos of himself. He's more aggravated by my attempt to get him to go through the stuff in his room. The truth is that he's not ready to let go of the stuff he loved when he was little. I get that. I tried to tell him that we could store things he loved, but I don't think he's even ready to decide which to store and which to give away. He tried. He really did. I think he'll feel better if I pull some things off his shelves for him. He asked Mike what it said about him that he still liked some of his action figures.

"Don't worry, Nick," Mike said. "There are grown men that still like their action figures." That put the smile back onto Nick's face. I can help him pare down that collection though. I can identify the ones he really liked.

As for me, I think I'll get rid of the sizes I don't wear. I mean really. Why do we torture ourselves? I am not the same size I used to be when I was fourteen. Big whup. I'm not supposed to be. I don't look like the old women in the black dresses yet either. You know the ones I mean, the ones that spent all day on Sunday making dinner for the family, the ones that had to stand on tiptoe to stir the stock pot with the tomato gravy in it. I was told by one of those women in a black dress that I should never call it spaghetti sauce. Never. It was tomato gravy. No. I look pretty good in comparison to the women in the black dresses. I'm just not going to look like my younger self, so it's okay for me to get rid of those skinny jeans. If I happen to get skinny, I can go shopping. Right? Am I right?

And there are things in my closet that I will never, I mean never wear, even if I thought I could get away with it. Mike has been telling me that some of my more sophisticated looks have not aged well. I guess it has been a while since I needed to wear a dress for anything. Padded shoulders? Not good. I have a black silk skirt and a Chinese silk jacket. Next thing you know, those will be out of date too. The thing I love about living in the Pacific Northwest is that people don't dress up for much. Shoot, I went to a funeral the other day and a bunch of people came in wearing blue jeans and cowboy boots. I thought that was a bit tacky, but it freed me up a bit for the next one.

So, I'm going whole hog with my spring cleaning this year. I'm getting rid of two or three truck-loads of stuff. I can feel it. There's even a nearly new skateboard in there.

Want to come rummage through my rummage?

Thank you for listening, jb

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