I recently sold some clothes that I no longer wear and had a sort of bittersweet moment where I almost didn’t want to let them go. They are beautiful, they are designer, they are valuable, and they look fantastic on me. I hesitated to sell them for years for all those reasons, and now that I have a daughter I even thought that maybe I should save them for her. But I don’t wear them anymore, and even when I did wear them I felt a bit like I was in someone else’s skin. They were never quite right, never quite me. So, I decided to let them go. In doing so, I am making space for things that better suit my taste, and I am freeing up my never-worn clothes for someone who will love them and wear them all the time. It feels good!
As much as I envy women with expansive wardrobes I know I could never be one of them. I don’t have the space, and even if I did it would stress me out to have a lot of stuff hanging around not getting used. I can’t remember if I was always this way (maybe? probably.) or if this stems from the insane amount of time I spent going through my mother’s belongings after she died. It was awful! Of course, when I was a little girl I was super appreciative of her tendency to hang on to clothes she no longer wore–the dress-up options were endless and amazing because she had countless furs and sequined cocktail dresses, fancy bags and shoes, and enough costume jewelry to adorn a small army. I wonder if I’ll be depriving my kids of some of the magic of discovering old things around the house by my constant cleaning out of things no longer used. Or am I modeling a healthy detachment from “stuff” by periodically getting rid of some of mine? All I know is that I rarely, if ever, miss the things I’ve let go, and there are only a few things I could never buy again if I felt I needed or wanted them. I’m thinking a lot lately about that William Morris quote, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful,” and it feels like a good touchstone for “stuff” management. And yes I include wardrobe in the “stuff” category!
When I told Brian I had sold a particular dress he said he felt a bit sad because he had such sweet memories of me wearing it when we’d meet on a street corner in Dupont Circle after work to drive out to my father’s house in MD (we lived at my dad’s for a few months after we sold our apartment in DC and before we moved to Seattle). I also have wonderful fond memories of those times, some of the best of our lives because we got to spend a lot of time together and because we were almost totally unencumbered by belongings or responsibilities (funny what living in someone else’s house with all your possessions in storage will do for your psyche…hmmm…). That’s when I felt a tiny little pang of, well, not regret, but maybe uncertainty about my decision. And then I remembered something I’d read a while ago in reference to belongings and life:
The things are not the memories.
It feels good to let go of the things and hold tight to the memories.