Thea here in this season of graduations, retirements and tag sales, sitting in my house that looks like we’re perennially moving in. This is the first time I’ve ever thought, everything’s got to go. The big stuff, the stuff we’ve collected or inherited from our parents. The stuff I’m not sure my sons will really want. Things I want them to keep forever.
Because everything has story: my husband grew up with this item; his parents collected that stuff on the Cape in the 1950′s; they bought that painting from a local artist there; and brass bed at an auction in Maine. Things that my husband is loath to let go. On my side, there wasn’t quite as much of value, but among the things I kept were the living room lamps from my parent’s first apartment. I remember that apartment vividly even though I was only four or five at the time.
The lamps sat on two tall side tables flanking a camelback sofa. There was a large framed print over the sofa of a medieval farm scene, and the lamps, perhaps hand-painted, echo that theme. They’re tall and urn-shaped, with a little curly-cue on each side. Those curls reminded me of my mother’s very curly hair. I remember playing with those curly-cues when I was very young. And because of that I can’t bear to get rid of the lamps even though they don’t fit anywhere in our house.
Or maybe there’s a different reason for my reluctance, and that is in letting go of those objects we are in some respect erasing our story, our past and our present both. Because what will our sons do with all we’ve assiduously collected? The books and paintings we’ve loved. The Eastlake dresser that was one of first things we bought after we got married. The painted sleigh bed. The antique dishes.
There’s a memory. a story behind each of those things. And in them, the story of our lives together. We’ll be married 48 years this month, and will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the night we met in September. How do I let it go?
And how do I let go the memory of that little girl playing with the decorations on those lamps because they looked so much like her mother’s curly hair?
Are you clearing out and paring down? How do you handle it?