By Carmelene Melanie Siani
“Oh, it must feel so liberating to have gotten rid of all your “‘stuff,'” people will say. Well, I’ll tell you something, I’m getting sick of hearing that.
Why? Because it doesn’t feel “liberating” to have gotten rid of all my “stuff.” Because I don’t feel “lighter” or like it’s “easier to breathe.” I feel like I’m standing in a kind of dank, dark hole and, while it’s a kinda’ shallow hole, it’s definitely there.
I miss my stuff.
Wait. Let me say that differently. I miss the external manifestations of my internal self. Okay. Better?
I was at the grocery store the other day and there on the rack I saw a magazine called something like Minimalism. Instead of articles with titles like, How to Please Your Man, the articles had titles like How to Live More With Less and Give it Away and Get More in Return. It’s a nice concept. I like it—as a concept. But for me it’s not a concept that translated to my real life.
In my real life I wish I had all my stuff back. Yeah. All of it.
To me that white pasta bowl with the hairline cracks and “Made in Italy” stamped on the bottom of it wasn’t “stuff.” It was a whole movie of the time my little girls gave it to me for Mother’s Day. My cookbooks weren’t merely recipes, they were historical artifacts that recorded events, holidays, and hundreds of everyday meals written in greasy stains, smeared notes and crumbs between the pages. One of those pages still had a yellow sticky on it in my much younger housewife handwriting, “Honey, make these brownies when you get home from school, please.”
Without old friends to gather round me like my 1930’s blue bowls from China, my hand carved fretwork window screens and the all green oil painting I painted when I was in my 20’s I feel lonely and naked.
I definitely do not feel lighter.
In fact, I feel the opposite. I feel heavier and I feel like crying. Okay. There is some good news. Lots and lots of those old friends my daughters took to live with them so I get to visit them from time to time in their new habitat. But the bad news that remains is that I gave away stuff that haunts me.
“Come and find me and take me home with you,” my old wooden paper cutter (of all things) is calling out to me. “I don’t belong here,” my Farberware Electric Frying pan is crying, “They don’t know how to make your meatballs.” What happened to the red colander my parents gave me for my 20th wedding anniversary? And what about that incredible black skirt that I paid over $200.00 for 10 years ago that that I could wear anywhere with anything, the one I got married in? Where is the dress I was wearing the day I met David? How about the little red wool gloves that I wore down the Grand Canyon?
So no. I don’t feel lighter.
I miss my stuff.
When I was studying feng shui in San Francisco the teacher said something that explains all this to me.
“Look around you,” he’d said. “Look at your house, your clothes, your kitchen. It’s not just “stuff.” It’s you. Your stuff is you.” He was so right.
I guess the truth is. I miss me.
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Editor: Dana Gornall
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