Today I went through my closet and found 49 items of clothing that I am not wearing. 49! What an obscene amount. So I took them all off the hangers and shoved them into a big garbage bag to donate. I did this quickly, in about the space of 15 minutes, so I wouldn't start second guessing my choices. I needed to do something to atone for the fact that Roy and I went to our neighbors' house this morning and took quite a few books off their hands. I feel simultaneously guilty and thrilled about bringing new books into the house.
Getting rid of clothes is easy for me, for the most part. I have finally reached the point where I'd rather have a few select items of clothing that I wear over and over as opposed to a whole closet full of choices. I want to own clothes that I feel good in, and I need to let go of the fact that the dress I wore on my 21st birthday (when I weighed an unhealthy 100 pounds) will never fit again, and why would I want it to? Still, it's a beautiful dress and it's still hanging in our closet for reasons I don't fully understand. It's in good company with the shirt I wore on my first date with Roy, the dress I wore to my high school graduation, the skirt I wore to my college graduation and the night Roy proposed. I know fully well that the memories I have of those milestones in my life will never fade, and yet I continue to hang onto what I wore then. It's absurd and yet a totally human thing to do.
Books are harder - although reading over the previous paragraph has me realizing that clothes aren't so easy after all. The other day I let my mother-in-law borrow a few books that were slated to be donated to the library. I couldn't bear the thought of parting with them. Letting go of books is like finally admitting to myself that there are limitations to this life and I will never be able to read every single thing I want - there's just not enough time for that. I want to read Virginia Woolf and all the other greats! And yet when given the choice, I always bypass Virginia Woolf (for example) for someone else.
These big realizations are sometimes crippling, sometimes freeing. I find myself torn a lot of the time. I love how I feel after a big purge of our possessions but getting there is sometimes a heavy process. Looking at that dress I wore on my 21st birthday is a huge reminder of my Great Depression, yet when I look at pictures from that day I see a smiling (albeit way too skinny) girl. I should probably just get rid of the damn thing; I do have pictures, after all.
Here's a picture of the books that I had stacked in the office before I cleaned it out. I'm still feeling massively guilty over acquiring more books. There are worse habits, though, right?