Friday, June 26, 2009

Room in the Closet

As I pack to move, I am agonizing over which mementos to keep, and which to trash. A ceramic clown with a broken shoe, old jeans, a bottle of colored sand, hot pink glittery starfish sculpture, and picture frames I made out of paint stirrers make up the large "undecided" pile. I can't quite let go of this junk, all of which I used to consider treasure. Cleaning my closet and making space for new treasures is freeing. But I can't shake the nagging feeling that the minute I throw out my froggy flower pot, I am going to need to grow basil in something.

I inherited the trait of hoarding from my grandpa, a preacher who believed in giving away all his money. He filled his house, then, with stacks of the junk he couldn't give away. My family calls that trait "Being McLamby:" the word for all the stubborn habits we inherited from the McLamb side of the family:like how everyone is always an hour late to Sunday lunch, and then after lunch, we say we have to leave, but linger by the door talking for hours, while the husbands and children shift their weight and roll their eyes. We're slow to transition, I guess.

My grandpa would be proud that I don't buy into the hype that happiness can be bought. He'd understand why I still wear my size six jeans, even though, I'm now a size two. I don't want my life to be a cycle of buyers remorse. New things become old things. Something always needs to be replaced.

But my jeans sag, and my pink underwear pokes out. And I don't even remember who gave me that ugly, pink starfish. My grandpa never developed the art of knowing when to move on and invest in something new. I am trying to learn, but I am slow to transition.

I started cleaning out my closet, because I finally have time. Another school year is over, and I get my life back from all the 7th graders. I'm enjoying a break from all the committees, the planning, and presenting. I have time for me. This morning to read a fat book and sipped my coffee from a mug without a spill-proof lid. I welcome the slow summer. I don't miss the meetings. I don't miss the presentations or the paperwork.

What was the meaning of all that yearly work, if it could just be discontinued? I weed through which moments mattered? What of my work brought joy? What did I do just to gain recognition or please people?

My 20's have been a slow, sometimes painful transition, of trashing some of my most treasured values. I've always valued by innocence, only to find out that in the adult world I am naive and afraid, and therefore ineffective. For much of my life, I held fast to religion, only to find how hurtful such a staunch faith can be. I've clung to my independence, but now begin to realize I have just been afraid to let people in.

Every once in a while it is important to have a summer break to weed through my closet, get rid of my size 6 jeans, cherish my jar of colored sand (the one I got from Underground Atlanta the day before I got a stomach bug at my cousin's house), and agonize over what to keep, and what to trash. And then, most importantly, mull over what treasures will fill the newly cleared space.

1 comment:

rapsc said...

You do a good job of showing the connection of one generation to an earlier generation. I remember that auctioneer at your grandfather's farm who started with the idea of one man's trash being another's treasure. I think you have made a case for your current trash to also be preserved in the memory chest, out of the way, but where they can be always treasured.