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To Have and To Hold...
'Til (when?) do us part
When I was in law school in the early ‘90s, Peruvian sweaters were all the rage. I remember feeling powerless as I passed by the vendors on my way to class. I finally forked over whatever price it was to get one of my own.
Turns out, it was hot and itchy, not to mention quite ill-fitting.
That summer before I started law school, I traveled through Europe and, while in England, bought myself an Oxford University sweatshirt. Until now, I’ve been unable to get rid of those two articles of clothing, despite having ample opportunities to do so. And I really couldn’t tell you the last time I wore either of them.
There’s that rule of thumb: if you haven’t worn it in a year, get it out of your closet.
Easier said than done, amirite?
What is it with our sentimental attachment to clothing? Or things in general? Journalists are having a field day churning out articles about our obsession with “stuff.” Except, that obsession seems to be present only with members of GenX and older. The youngsters don’t want stuff—ours or anyone else’s.
As a single person who’s now closer to death than birth, I’m acutely aware of the need to get my affairs in order, which means not burdening loved ones with all of my stuff.
Recently, I had a conversation with an older relative about some articles of clothing she was still holding onto for purely sentimental reasons. Pieces of clothing spark memories. Marie Kondo, who invites us to ask whether the thing brings us joy, likely hasn’t considered the power of a memory sparked by that particular thing. In my case, the Oxford sweatshirt takes me back a special free and easy time in my life. I’d yet to experience the stress of law school and all the things that would come on its heels. The Peruvian sweater—well—it just reminds me of law school.
But I digress…
I think there’s also the notion that I just might need/wear/use this sometime, despite the fact that I haven’t needed/worn/used either in probably twenty years. The Peruvian sweater is still hot and itchy. The Oxford sweatshirt is worn out and makes me look like a slob. These should be easy choices.
With non-clothing items, however, it gets a bit murkier. Last week, the I might need/use this sometime theory actually bore out.
Let me explain.
A few years prior to the aforementioned clothing purchases, I’d bought a picnic set. At the time, the justification for the purchase was seeped in romance. I had a boyfriend, we’d go on picnics together and it would be delightful.
Except, I moved away for law school and the boyfriend and I ultimately broke up without ever enjoying a picnic. Several subsequent boyfriends would enter and exit my life, but the picnic set stayed tucked away. Every time I moved, it reminded me that I’d failed to picnic. I couldn’t get rid of it though, because of the possibility that someday I might picnic.
Fast forward three decades. I recently bought a travel trailer so the dogs and I can explore the country without having to stay in hotels. One of my camping mentors advised that I would need plates, cups, utensils, etc. I responded that I could just pack a few from the house. But then it occurred to me that I might already have something that would be perfect.
The picnic set would finally be put to good use! Then I perused the cupboard where I’d stored a bunch of mismatched towels that no longer served their original purposes and retrieved several that would be quite serviceable. I then located a breadboard that Dad had gotten as a holiday gift from his last place of employment. Finally, a trip to the garage rewarded me with a dish drying rack I’d been meaning to take to Goodwill.
All those things I hung on to because I might need or use them in the future are now playing reimagined roles in a life that’s quite different from the one in which they first appeared.
That said, I’m still in a purging mood, and the cooler weather is a good time to continue to winnow the contents of my closets. After all, someone else might really get good use out of a toasty Peruvian sweater.