Letting go

I’ve been selling some of the things I’ve collected and hoarded over the years. None of this is particularly rare or excessively valuable; I don’t have a drawer of Rolexes or Fabergé eggs.  I’ve collected linens and coffee mugs, some books and stuffed animals designed by Sandra Boynton, most of these were produced in the 80’s and except for the books and some new versions of the animals , they are no longer made.

I’ve resisted giving them up, held onto them through three moves and shlepped them from place to place. Their final storage was in my late aunt’s garage. She was good enough to let me keep a lot of stuff there, stuff we had no room for in our apartment. They stayed there until last year when plans were made to sell her house. I had to empty out the house and find new homes for her things as well as find a new place to store my stuff.

The boxes sat in my apartment and it was like a maze then like walls when I stacked them to one side. I began sorting the items I brought from my aunt’s and my old stuff. Most of it was from her kitchen, which I raided like a Goth. I looked at my aunt’s serving bowls, her cast iron dishes, Pyrex dishes and bowls, Corningware and Frankoma. I knew I couldn’t keep it all. So I began to make three piles–one for my sisters, one  to donate to the thrift store and one for me to keep. I’d like to say I distributed it all equally but I didn’t. I gave some of the cast iron pans and Corningware to my sisters, with some reluctance. The thrift store pile was light; only a couple of burned pizza pans and  muffin tins.  I kept the Pyrex and Frankoma but managed to part with and gave two Pyrex bowls to my youngest sister. I set them aside at first, took them back then put them back in her pile.  I wanted to keep them but I knew my sister could use them when we had family dinners at my other aunt’s house. Besides I had similar bowls and no room for these.

Some things from my aunt’s house weren’t going anywhere and I knew it. The Frankoma has some monetary value and I could have sold some pieces quite easily. Yet I remembered when my uncle took her on a tour of their factory and she came back with boxes full of yellow dishes, cups and bowls. He let her go nuts in the showroom and she loved those dishes, they were their everyday dishes. My uncle passed away a year later.

As for the Pyrex I like the colors, designs and just think they are cool. I remember seeing some of them on her table but there were bowls I’d never seen before too. I kept all but the two bowls for myself.

My attachment to her things is mostly sentimental. I have use for them and they are nice but holding them gives me a sense of comfort.

After I finished sorting through my aunt’s things I moved onto my boxes. I have, had two bedspreads, bedsheets in every size, over two dozen pillowcases and still no idea how many coffee mugs. I looked at each item, a task that took nearly two weeks. I had decided to sell some of these items, because we needed the space and frankly, I could use the cash. Amazing how sentiment folds when faced with cold reality.

The process was simple enough; the best items would go on ebay and I’d keep the rest. Mugs with spoon marks, pillowcases with stains, those went back into the boxes. It was not easy putting aside these things I’d held onto to so long. Most of these were thrift store finds, after looking through racks and racks of old sheets and towels, after trip after trip to the stores I’d finally score a pillowcase, maybe a mug. The mugs were a little easier to find, one reason I had so many.

So I did it, sold some of my stuff. I was glad they went to good homes, glad there were people who loved these things as much as I did and glad I made some money.  I’m still selling, will probably list items on ebay for another week or two then I should be done. What does not sell I relist, if it doesn’t sell the second time I keep it.  So far all I’ve kept is one pillowcase.

This week I’m selling some other things as well , housewares I’ve kept. So far they’ve had viewers but no bids.  It wasn’t easy to list them either but I remind myself I need the space.

I feel better seeing the piles diminish. I know my things are going to good homes, to people who will enjoy having them. It’s still a little sad to wrap up something I’ve had for so long. Yet I remind myself it’s been in  a box for two or more years, I haven’t needed it or used it. I should not miss it I tell myself. I do, but the feeling eventually passes.

I have too much stuff and most of us are lucky enough to be in the same situation. For the first time in history, ordinary people can accumulate excess goods, to have more than they need and without the fear of running out.  I could continue to rationalize that since these pillowcases and mugs aren’t produced any longer this makes them rare. That logic falls apart when I visit the thrift store.  There are more mugs, more pillowcases, more than I will need or use. I see new items at Wal-Mart and Target,  something new, a different design or color to make them appealing and convince me I need this.

I still like my Boyntons,  I like her style. The chubby animals, their expressions, the captions, the humor,  I like it.  It may be juvenile but I don’t care. Apparently there are other people out there who share my fondness for her work. It’s not high art, it doesn’t try to be, but there’s something about it, why she’s been writing and drawing and selling her work for over 20 years and why people love it. However much I don’t like to see my stuff go I still have some my collection left. I rarely ever used my Boynton pillowcases and only used the mugs with spoons marks but I plan to use these items as they were intended to be used. Much in the same way my aunt used her Frankoma dishes every day. It’s meant to be used and enjoyed.

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