Saturday, October 19, 2013

Sophie’s Choice Decluttering

One of my earliest posts dealt with the process of downsizing, especially figuring out what to keep and what to jettison. I confessed my weakness of anthropomorphizing objects, which made the process even more difficult. I imagined the floor lamp selected to be discarded saying: “Why me? Why not him? Why am I not as lovable? Look how interesting MY shade is! Just put a stronger bulb in me, for heaven’s sake!”

As we get closer to moving to smaller living quarters (please, Lord), I’m once again rummaging through my closets to see what should stay and what should go. As I handle each item, I’ve found myself wandering down memory lane into a Sophie’s Choice of decluttering.

It started with my bathrobes, something I seldom wear, but feel I should have, just in case. (There’s that “just in case” again.) I found four of them. One is royal blue silk, kimono style, with a huge embroidered eagle on the back. It’s the only knee length one; it’s good for most travel needs; and it makes me feel exotic, so it’s a keeper.

The next one is also kimono style. It’s long and red (my favorite color) and it has embroidered scenes on the back and front. I bought it on a trip to San Francisco—part business, part pleasure. I coordinated the timing with my parents’ visit to my brother. The robe came from Chinatown and it reminds me of the fun we had wandering the shops together.

My mother liked San Francisco, but not the morning fog, which she said left a funny smell that hung in the air over people’s homes. By people, she meant my brother’s pothead friends, in whose house we stayed. I can still hear my father telling them to put a saucer under the tomato plant on the end table, or else it would leave a ring. That reminded me of my brother’s friend back in New Jersey, whose wife wondered why the “tomato plants” outside their garden apartment never bore any fruit.

I have another long, kimono style robe. It’s also red, but it’s polished cotton with printed flowers, and it washes beautifully. My brother-in-law gave it to me when I had my cancer surgery in Vermont. I’d been misdiagnosed for months in New Jersey, where I lived. My brother-in-law (a physician) networked me into an appointment with the best breast surgeon in Burlington for a second opinion. I eventually entered a National Institutes of Health study and had my initial treatment up there.

The fourth robe in my closet was a get-well-gift from some of my closest friends from my days at Colgate Palmolive. I remember wearing it in the hospital after my surgery. It’s long and heavier—a rich cranberry jacquard, lined with turquoise terrycloth, which absorbs water nicely. It’s perfect for cold weather mornings. It was also great to put on while I was doubled over from my surgery and unable to dry off thoroughly after my shower.

You might wonder why I’d want to keep things associated with serious health problems. Those last two robes remind me that I got through such a difficult time because of the love and support of family and friends. Parting with any of my robes, no matter how seldom I wear them, would be a Sophie’s Choice dilemma—like deciding which of my children to give up.

After my bathrobe foray, I decided that clothes closets were not the best place to start this phase of decluttering. I moved downstairs to tackle some kitchen cabinets. Surely somewhere among the dozen or so flower vases were a few that could be parted with.

Well, not the Baccarat. That’s the one my sister and her husband gave us for our wedding. It’s a classic shape that works with both modern and traditional décor. Plus, it curves like waves, and I’ve put blue silk flowers in it to create positive “water” feng shui in our entry hall. And not the vase that Vivek and Anu gave us. That’s the only one tall enough and heavy enough to corral a dozen roses. It’s held many anniversary bouquets from my husband over the years.

You can guess where this is headed. No matter how long it takes to sell our house, I’m doomed to pack up and move with us cartons full of “children” I can’t part with. Don’t worry about where I’ll put all of it. Basement storage is one of our down-sized condo must-haves. A wine cellar would be nice, too.

1 comment:

gene said...

I had to finally hire a professional to unclutter...$60.00 an hour 3 hour minimum, for 4 days.
Give away, keep, throw away, put on the porch- I'm finally throwing away the put on the porch bags
You are right the "Everything has a story" problem can be insurmountable- I can use it some day is another- I had to decide I I need it someday, I'll buy it new.

And I found some things I never knew I had...I found audio tapes of my son exwife and I singing "Wheels on the Bus" Priceless.