At the beginning of this new year, I am in the throes of cleaning / purging / clearing. It feels a bit like an obsession. As Lady Macbeth would say, “Out, damn’d spot! out, I say!” Out old things, scratchy things, faded things, cracked things, things I never liked. As I dig deeper, I toss things I’d kept from lifetimes ago, old scripts, old letters, old mementos. Good Lord, I found a plastic fish from my stint on a “River Runs Through It!” Out to recycling, out to trash, out to the Salvation Army.
Room by room, closet by closet, drawer by drawer, ruthlessly I toss.
I throw out an entire drawer full of maps and folders of information Mike would gather before our trips. I don’t dare look too closely as I don’t want to get mired in the memories of the places we’d been together, the life we’d shared. They are only maps, only paper, so out they go.
Inspired, I go for another pass. Is there more I can throw away? More clothes I don’t wear? More things I don’t need? More space to be had? Where else can I make room for my own making?
In the process, I come to the cupboard filled with photos. And into the fray I go, as I toss photos of people I don’t know, fuzzy photos, duplicate photos, ten photos of my daughter when she turned one year old. It feels almost sacrilegious to throw away photos but how many photos do I need? Onwards.
I pause for a moment to consider putting items on Craig’s list, or eBay, try to make a few bucks. But then I think, heck no. No delays, keep it moving, get the stuff out of the house.
But in the clearing, I also find treasures, things forgotten, memories rekindled. I discover gifts brought into the light that had been buried under a pile of stuff. I find love letters from Mike, letters from my Dad, also gone, cards from old friends. I put them into a special envelope, tuck them into my dresser drawer, where I’ll have them to read again.
I am keenly aware of Mike’s things as I reach for them, his faded red jacket, his sunglasses, his shaving kit. This year, I find I am able to let more of them go, they no longer have the same hold.
I take his Hawaiian shirts, which hung with my clothes in the closet last year, and tuck them gently in a drawer – still close to my heart, but now a little further away.
I discover a beautiful photo of him and hang it on the wall.
I continue to find my way with having him, loving him, holding him, letting him go. It is a delicate dance.
At some point there will be nothing left to toss, and I will find myself in the aftermath of the hurricane – when all is quiet, all is still, and I am left with myself and the future I am walking into.
At some point there will be no more distractions of stuff. It will be time to settle, drop in … claim … the life I want to have.
The shelves are clear, the drawers are empty, the floor is wide open. Look, my Darling, there is so much room to dance.