Twirl, January 2006
Is it odd that during this festive shopping season, when so many search for or hope to receive the perfect new item, I find myself struggling to part with the old? Isn't it the stereotypical husband who insists on keeping his favorite old sweatshirt and the stereotypical wife who twirls in front of the mirror in her new party dress? What kind of wife am I anyway? Sheesh.
I do like to buy or receive something bright and shiny every once in a while. But more prominent in my life are the few things I already own and hold close to my heart--the things I cannot let go. Don't get me wrong, I'm quite selective with what I decide is worth keeping. The space we call home is petite, so what stays must be truly dear. I'm not a pack rat. I don't have an attic filled with my entire past and although these would serve as completely acceptable items to treasure, I'm not talking about my great grandmother's exquisite wedding dress or the collection of fine china that has traveled continents and been passed down through generations.
No, I refer more to things that figure in to my day-to-day life. Items such as an extraordinarily comfortable and well-worn (bordering on over-worn) pair of jeans, a cozy sweater that is slowly disintegrating, but still feels warm and beautiful, and my frazzled scarf that I know should be retired. When I wear these things I return to wonderful places in my life.
I bought the jeans right before we got married and wore them with a sexy black halter to meet family and friends for drinks at our favorite neighborhood bar a few days before our wedding. The sweater? It was folded up on a table in one of my favorite shops when I saw it, the yarn was a creamy white color. The cuffs, fabric flanking the zipper, and the interior of the hood, were made of satin and were the same beautiful winter white -- completely impractical. I tried it on anyway and then had to have it. My best choices are rarely practical. As it turns out, it wasn't that impractical. It's now years later and I'm still wearing it, today as a matter of fact. I'm not sure what others think when they see me wearing this sweater, but it feels so good against my skin and it's so easy for me to forget it's current state and slip back to feeling as if I just unfolded it and I'm in the shop seeing myself in the mirror, wearing it for the very first time. The scarf? Chris gave it to me, just a fun purchase from a chain store. It is not cashmere. It is not handmade by anyone near and dear. It is very special to me. It did keep me warm through the winter while walking to and from the worst job I ever had and it stayed with me through the cold and frustrating days and nights in my studio as I worked my way through graduate school.
I love these things. Fortunately, I do not to need to save them. I have replaced each and every piece. Still, I just can't seem to part with them.
Perhaps this connects to a theory of my father's. He believes there are vast differences between his meeting an individual for the first time as an adult and revisiting a relationship with someone he knew when they were both young. He feels a certain comfort level and an ability to let his guard down in the revisiting scenario. He doesn't have the same questions and concerns that he has when meeting someone new because he already has a solid platform from which to begin. He doesn't need to know everything about the friend he is revisiting. He believes yes, this person might have accumulated some baggage during their journey, but somehow it is all forgiven because he understands the true essence of this person. He feels he "gets" who they are because he knows who they were before any of these mishaps occurred.
I think I'm a bit more skeptical, or maybe just too curious. I need to fill in more blanks than Dad deems necessary. My jeans, sweater, and scarf have been with me all along. They never ventured off and lived in other closets before coming back to me. We've been together through thick and thin and we've held close together the entire time. This might also explain the extent to which I value my marriage. Chris, I hope you know you are a smidge more valuable than my favorite sweater. We've built this life together, and a wonderful life it is. That being said, Dad's theory remains a very interesting concept and I like that it works for him. It's sort of romantic, isn't it?
So what am I trying to say here? As this year winds down and we look back at what is most important in our lives my guess is that the majority of those things, if not all of them, are NOT newly acquired. Hold on tight to the good stuff. Appreciate it. Often the next-big-thing is something we already possess.