I’ve just shed weight in preparation for winter. No not that kind. I would like to lose pounds of actual me, but it goes very slowly about 2 lbs a month if I don’t even look at sugar and wine. The weight I have lost has come out of closets and storage spaces.
This is what I have thrown out/left on the curb/shredded/taken to the thrift shop in the last week:
a full length mirror with gilt frame;
a favourite Indian rug too big for my room;
all floppy discs, a floppy disc reader, the ZIP drive and its discs;
4 years of tax returns,
12 steno pads detailing flight options,
packing lists and hand-drawn maps, dating back to ’97;
10 tiny notebooks with grocery and to do lists;
pay stubs dating back to ’80;
2 boxes of research for a book that has been finished for years;
a large collection of postcards bought while travelling;
a large, puffy, pink elephant with a top handle;
a red velour hat that looks as if it were lost by the Mad Hatter;
some very bad poetry (I kept the somewhat bad poetry);
the white suit my 4 year-old wore as ring bearer;
a vase made by one of my children at summer camp;
their first books with their childish signatures.
The christening dress is due to go, we all agree. Not only has church-going fallen off en famille, people persist in marrying Jews. Anyway, it isn’t silk. It isn’t hand embroidered and although it was as much beauty as we could afford back then, it has to be admitted, it is ugly. Clearly, my courage has faltered or it would not still be in the keepsake box.
Late Breaking News: it isn’t.
Here’s what I haven’t given up: the 100 year-old portraits of my grandparents -I bought them a plastic storage box; my first novel – I might be able to use some of that detail about Greece -I certainly couldn’t actually read it; the pictures minus the negatives (but they could do with weeding); the canner – whaaaat?; the roast pan and lid; the portable sewing machine.
Here’s what I need to do: sort through the clothes hanging at the far end of my long, narrow closet – the houndstooth suit -what was I thinking?-, the gauzy red flowing Indian thing, the jaloba from Morocco, not to mention the multiple jeans in size 10 and the same number in size 12; my mother’s costume jewellery, and my mother-in-law’s and that third box that belonged to the stranger I used to be; my degree handwritten in Latin with a plaid ribbon! – these decisions require courage.
I feel much lighter in spite of what the scale reports. The air seems fresher. It is easier to breathe. All that past I was dragging behind felt like the slime of a dragon’s tail. Why did I think I needed it? I never looked at it. It seems to have functioned as insulation or protection, not effectively of course. Come to think of it, whenever I have been able to fit into those size 10 jeans, I have always felt on the verge of vanishing.
Is there a lesson here?