My Beautiful Wickedness

When lighting a match and walking away is not an option.
July 18, 2007, 9:53 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

One forgets how much work redoing a room actually is. And we’re not really even doing the “big” stuff — we’re not hanging drywall in that room or redoing the electrical (except insofar as we’re going to run an outlet to the interior wall, which was not something that 1914 electricians must have thought necessary). I think we might be ready to roll color by the end of the week.

The decluttering is proceeding apace. I’ve talked about why I’m committed to selling or giving away all my unused, unwanted, unneeded, unloved, or unbeautiful things by the end of the year. Basically, I need to make room for the next half of my life and I’ve “outgrown” much of my stuff in one way or another. I’m a craphound and I grew up really poor, which means that I distrust the ability to replace anything that I might throw/give away, even if I currently can’t see a need for it. I have extras of everything — extra scarves, extra boots, extra books — just in case. I invest things with emotional meaning, totems of dreams unfulfilled or roads not taken, souvenirs that transport me back to a past that only seems less complex than the present, and tokens that mark my life’s progress. Looking around, though, I realized that my home was becoming a Museum of Me (or a jumble shop…which, come to think of it, might be sort of the same thing.) So I have to do something about that. I’m not ready to be encased and tagged just yet.

The single most painful object I’ve thrown away was a plaque passed to me by my mom when my dad died. I had gotten it for them as an anniversary gift and anniversaries were, for her and for me, bittersweet commemorations that were as much about what the marriage could have been but wasn’t as what it actually turned out to be. The inscription was something about togetherness and tenderness in the face of suffering and silent, unspeakable memories. It wasn’t romantic. It was probably poorly chosen. As I aged and married myself, I sort of cringed seeing it on my parents’ wall, but because I had given it, Mom displayed it and cleaned it. I don’t know if she felt as I did and she’s too kind to tell me, anyhow. As part of the widowhood purge, though, she passed it on to me; whatever reminders she needed of the past did not include this morbid reflection on the insufficiencies and silences contained in her now defunct marriage. And because Mom gave it BACK to me, I felt I had to keep it. I looked at it (in a bag, not displayed, stuck in the closet) every time I had to retrieve a pair of shoes. I thought about Dad’s declining health. I thought about them bickering constantly. I thought about the cruelty and the wrong turns, the things that should not have been said, the things that could never now be said. And it bummed me out — every single time.

If Mom could free herself, so could I. In the garbage bag it went. My parents’ marriage wasn’t happy, but there’s no need for me to keep revisiting that. Time to let go, take stock, move on.


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