A decade ago, I was dating my first serious boyfriend. We were fighting. I can’t remember about what but he fell asleep during it. I was still hot with anger with no outlet. So I wanted something soft and warm to eat. Food that requires little chewing often brings me comfort. I wanted something I didn’t have to cook and would fit my college student budget. So I drove around and saw the Church’s light was still on and ordered myself a medium tub of mashed potatoes. I sat in my car and ate it. It was the only comfort I found that night. That was the last time I had Church’s.
A year or so after that fight, we were fighting again and he fell asleep again. I was still seething and upset and needed an outlet. I grabbed a book of his that his parents gave him. The Five People You Meet in Heaven. I read it from cover to cover while sitting in the floor of the walk in closet.
I completely forgotten about these two memories for years. I am reminded of them when I was wondering what I’d eat for dinner and all of a sudden I felt an urge to eat Church’s mashed potatoes.
Nov 14 (4 days ago) to me
I am happy for you and a little jealous. It seems like you’re pursuing all the stuff that I’ve been too afraid to do for the past…forever. I have been entertaining the idea of throwing all my shit out and being free from it. Free to move wherever, whenever. And I saw your post and your changes and facing your fears and I am reminded of how awesome you are and how inspiring you will always be.
Nov 14 (4 days ago)
I don’t really feel inspire-y. I’ve been feeling very messy and sobby and frantic. I’m probably pursuing these scary things as a way to distract myself from feeling sad. I should call you one day and make the sound I make every day when I drive to work. It sounds like a dying whale. And that’s just how I feel.
BACK TO PACKING. Movers come Saturday morning bright and early which means I only have tonight and tomorrow night. Cue panic.
Nov 14 (4 days ago)
It doesn’t matter why you’re doing the scary things in life. The point is that you’re doing them. I often cope by eating copious amounts of transfats. Your way seems much healthier, physically and mentally. So don’t discredit it. The whale noises will morph into dolphin sounds. And then the cackling of seagulls. Actually, the last part seems like a backslide, but you know. The good parts give us hope, and the hard parts give us the strength and tools to ensure longer periods of the pleasant.
Feel stressed. Feel lonely. Moan like you’re 8 tons and all warted and barnacle looking. It’s hard to break from the status quo. But at least it means your life won’t always be what it once was.
A couple of weeks ago, I took Bob on a spontaneous walk to a scenic overlook called Mount Bonnell. We happened across an elaborate proposal of strangers. I sat down with Bob and was struck by how starkly it juxtaposed where I was in life. Later that same night, I ended my almost six year relationship to Alan. To stumble on a proposal a couple hours before felt like a punch in the gut. Breaking up with him is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and it’s confusing to me how something I know is the best for both of us can hurt this much.
Yesterday, I moved out. And the heaviness of my decision to divorce myself from a life I thought I’d be living for the rest of my days is weighing down on my chest. I have six years of memories to dull down and compartmentalize. I have to let go of the dreams I harbored for our future. And in the place of these dead dreams, lives this void called the unknown. So on top of the grieving and the pain of a broken heart, there’s the worry, “what will become of all this?” and I’m an absolute mess.
There’s a lot about minimalism that appeals to me. There’s the not buying things. The money I used to spend on buying clothes and projecting this false image of me as someone who is on top of her sartorial life, is now channeled towards paying down debt and traveling. I like the idea of not owning a huge home where I’d feel like I’d have to then buy all the furniture and things to make it feel and look like a home. There’s the idea that I don’t have to spend so much energy to heat and cool more space than I can ever need. I like the aspect of not spending my time maintaining the upkeep of things. Things that need to be dusted, stored, and packed when I move.
I have stopped clothes shopping for fun for about two years now because I wanted to channel most of my disposable income into paying down debt and traveling. I used to really enjoy clothes shopping but after I stopped, I found that my life didn’t change. Instead of being a happy girl who loves to shop, I am now a happy girl who doesn’t shop. I didn’t look critically at my ginormous closet with my ridiculous shoe collection. Now that I’m moving to a place with a significantly smaller closet, I was forced to really look at the stack of shoe boxes storing boots I haven’t worn in about 3 years. I had to look at the dozens of scratched up pairs of stilettos that I used to wear to bar hop on weekends from another lifetime. As I’m frantically packing, I finally had to admit that I own over 200 DVDs and have seen maybe 10 of them in the last 10 years it took for me to build the collection. I came face to face with the guilt that motivated me to keep all the stuffed animals and snow globes and other knick knacks that I’ve been gifted by people in my life. A lot of these gifts I’ve kept not because I like the items but because I love the people who have given me these things. The space these things were occupying isn’t reflective of how I feel for the people.
In my desperation to fit my life into boxes, I’ve let go the false assumption that I need to keep the stuffed animals or the snow globes that light up in neon colors to prove that there was love. That I don’t have to keep everything to honor the people who gave it to me. And that as much as I thought American History X was an amazing film, I will not ever want to re-watch it. The same goes for Requiem for a Dream. And Heat. And Goodfellas. That my indoor grill and chocolate fondue set have been moved to new apartments more than they have been used. In the last two weeks, I’ve gotten rid of at least 60 DVDs, threw out five pairs of shoes, gave about 15 of my snow globes to my coworker whose kids love them, and started many Goodwill bags. And it feels good.
My friend Ashley published a collection of essays about Minimalism that was a great companion and inspiration to me during this month of paring down. If you’re looking to simplify your environment and creating your own meaning with the space that is cleared, might I suggest you purchase her essays? It’s a whopping $1.99 on Kindle. It gets bonus points for not taking up space on your bookshelf.
Questions: What is your relationship like with your things? What is your favorite possession?
I’m attempting a year of 30 Day Challenges. I started in October with taking ten photos a day with my DSLR. In November, I’m blogging every day. In brainstorming for December, I considered what I already have planned, which is my first solo weekend road trip. It’s something that scares me, so that inspired me to dedicate December to facing fears. I’ve started brainstorming a list of things to do and literally started sweating at the thought of a couple of them. Two of which involved having very hard conversations with family members.There were three things that have lower stakes but have been things I’ve wanted to do for years, and that is to cook pho, bun rieu, and a whole chicken.
I’ve shared this idea with coworkers and they all commented about the chicken. “There’s nothing scary about cooking a whole chicken!” That’s the thing about fear. It’s such a personal thing. A whole chicken is nothing to most people and yet I’ve had this on my bucket list for years. Skydiving sounds terrifying to a lot of people but I did that more readily than go to the grocery store and pick out a whole bird.
I can’t wait to plan this project out further and see what I push myself into doing.