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Thanking and Letting it Go…

My mom kept lots of stuff.

After she died, cleaning out the house was entirely myjob (being an only child). And while previous to that I’d always thought, “That’sgonna be a horrible job”, I ended up loving every second of it. Going throughthe rooms and closets and chests and drawers was a surprising delight of mypersonal museumization.

I was able to get rid of most of the stuff. In fact, Ireduced a 1400 square foot house packed to the gills down to a small U-Haultrailer. And most of the stuff in the trailer should’ve just been dumped.

But it’s hard to do that when you’re genetically predisposed to sentimentality.

But we’ve hit a limit. My family lives in a NYC apartment.We have no space for sentimentality. And there’ve been some ridiculous thingsI’ve clung to if only to laugh with you, dear reader, about my absurdity. I’dlike to think I’m not a hoarder, but the items, herein, might make me look likeI’m ready to have a collection of dirty pizza boxes crowding the 23 cats’litter boxes.

But it’s OK to let things go, too. (Mind you – Istarted composing this email long before Marie Konde’s Art of Tidying Up lit up our Instagram feeds. I was just late inpublishing it cuz I was certain I’d find new items to add to this post.)

For example, this felt like my own personal stuffedanimal massacre. I searched online for a (for lack of a better word) humaneway to recycle or up-cycle my kids’ neglected stuffed animals. Seriously, theynever gave a stuffed rat’s ass about Elmo. Isn’t that crazy? Elmo never figuredinto our lives. So even though I thought it terrible to trash him, I did it,anyway. And though I felt guilt walking away from trashy Elmo, I haven’t givenit much thought, since. Oh, and as for upcycling, there’s a lot of suggestionson pinterest for turning stuffed animals into chairs and furniture (no shit)and then one non-profit that sends them to child victims of hurricanes andnatural disasters. But when a dear friend who’s brother survived Caribbeanhurricane Maria and told his sister (my friend), “We need water, but people aresending fucking stuffed animals!” I nonchalantly made a mental note notto send my kids’ discarded Beanie Boos to St. Thomas or San Juan.

My Star Wars sheets.

When I pulled these out of my mom’s massive pile of“Gavin’s childhood stuff with which I just can’t part”, I was thrilled to findthese Return of the Jedi sheets. They might as well be sand paper attheir 40-or-so thread count.

I remember the time at Target when I begged my dad forthem, and because my frugal mother wasn’t there, he acquiesced, but sort ofmade me look away so I wouldn’t see them in the cart. Not sure what the pointof that was, but I vividly remember being forced to walk in front ofthe cart so I “couldn’t see the sheets” and Dad could gift the sheets to me formy birthday.

And I was able to put them on my son’s bed for awhile.And then the little asshole ground silly putty all over the corner of thesheet. And I just can’t even with the “googling how to remove silly putty fromyour vintage Return of the Jedi sheets that your dad gave you.”Because sometimes it’s just time to say goodbye.

This Orange Raincoat

This over-priced rain jacket was a purchase from a verystressful time of my life. I bought it, impulsively, when I was going to Alaskato hike with a friend to temporarily escape a confused chapter of my life. Myhiking friend had most of the equipment and a place to stay that we could callhome base as we hiked/camped for a week on the Kenai Peninsula. And because Ionly needed this jacket one day during a glacier-viewing cruise, I actually hadthe gall to try to return it. (The store manager rolled his eyes at me.Justifiably so.)

I wore the jacket for about eight years. But when therain started seeping through every single seam to the degree that I felt likeit was actually pooling inside the jacket more than it was repelling the wet, Isupposed it was time to say, “peace out”.

This Shirt

Just – what was I thinking? 
In a way, just “documenting” the life (and my memories of) these items allowsthem to live on in perpetuity and (and provide endless laughs).

But I like having a de-cluttered apartment, more.

This Plastic Trumpet and My Childhood Cereal Bowl.

Here are two items made from 1980’s plastic that survived storagefor a very long time and with my own kids for a much shorter time. But I mean:antique plastic, right? I was mildly annoyed but didn’t get upset when, in one day, both items were broken by the jerk-face kid. (I don’t even remember which one it was.) But I suppose just because I keep something for 30 years doesn’tmean it’s meaningful to anyone else. Meanwhile, they were both having fun with the trumpet, still, despite the broken mouthpiece was basically a shard of plastic just waiting to stab toddler gums and lips.

These have already gone bye-bye.

This stash of gift bags I’ve shoved into a bedroom corner:

I kept dozens of gift bags from our baby shower and subsequentbirthday parties. Seriously: will I ever actually re-use them? Not only do theylook creased and smashed, but I alwaysforget to use them.

This reminds me exactly of the extra bedroom closet in which mymother stored recycled wrapping paper and bows. I found it so unsightly the wayshe would fold and preserve wrapping paper and then I’d have to sift throughthe scraps to wrap things, myself. But now I applaud her giftly conservatism.I’m just unable to even with this 5-year-old stack of gift bags that I neverremember to use.

Hopefully they can be recycled. Fingers crossed.

This Dated Suit

This suit.

I bought it to attend a wedding in 2007. Just because it still fitsdoes not mean it should be worn,again. Aren’t the ravages of fashion trends the worst? This was a perfectlycool linen suit for summer weddings when I bought it.

But when I dusted it off for a wedding, last summer, I looked like aclown. It just doesn’t fit according to 2019 fashion rules. And no: no oneneeds to be a slave to fashion and trends. But seriously – look at the rumpledlook at the ankles. Did I ever lookgood in this?

So life will be easier once I retire (trash) these items and withouttheir nostalgic weight pressing down on my shoulders. They’ll live on inintrawebs infamy, instead.

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I'm a father of two young boys living in New York and trying to cope with style and humor. I've founded a baby gear company, "E.C. Knox" catering to stylish dads.

1 Comment

  1. Marlene Lundberg says

    You nailed it! That’s me. I‘ve been downsizing off and on for two years, and I’ve moved to a new place and STILL HAVE LOTS MORE TO GET RID OF. I’ve sent lovely suits and dresses to Goodwill, tossed nearly all the academic articles and notecards I accumulated for my dissertation, given away many pairs of high heels and casual clothes, parted with books, rugs and furniture, and still there’s too much. And, so far I haven’t been able to toss the many equity and debt analyses I wrote because they are my CREATIONS!

    The recipe for my state of mind: part SENTIMENTALITY; part FRUGALITY (I might be able to use that sometime— and often I do); part ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERN ( why waste resources and clog the landfill when somebody else could use it?) Can you imagine my outrage when the realtor tells me my perfectly decent kitchen and bathroom will likely be replaced by any new owner of my former apartment! Most citizens of the world would be thrilled to have them. Apparently, some people today are spoiled and have too much money. Can you imagine them having to fight W.W. II?

    Hey, Everybody — let’s get back to the Three R’s — REPAIR, RESTORE, and RECYCLE!

    Like

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