Tag Archives: clutter
My son’s graduation is over. It was the first big celebration that I had to share with my Ex-Husband. See The Unspoken Pain of Sharing Celebrations. I made it through. And by that I mean I stayed off the six o’clock news. In the weeks before the graduation, during the graduation and after the graduation some bad things happened, and some very good things happened. I’m too close to it right now to write about it. But in the midst of all the brouhaha, of the visiting relatives, of the planning and anxiety, the tears (some mine, some not), something quite unexpected happened . . .
I got rid of my wedding gown.
My sister was staying at our parents’ home. When she left she cleaned the old bedroom — her old bedroom. She dusted, organized, threw things out, removed bedding and vacuumed — even under the bed. To clean under the bed, she pulled out everything stored there, including an airline cardboard garment box. The box had the logo of the airline, along with my maiden name handwritten on it in black marker.
It was my wedding dress.
Now, I’ve written before about how I have dealt with the mementos of my lengthy but ultimately failed marriage. Wedding Leftovers — What To Do With The Dress and The Wedding Album — Time to Reduce it, Perhaps by Fire. And the gist was that I sold my rings, reduced the number and manner of presentation of my wedding photos, but I kept the wedding gown in a box under a bed at my parents’ house — untouched.
And I’ve also written before about how I moved into a hoarders home and had to clean it, see That Hoarders Smell, and that I’m also trying to clean out my parents’ home, which is too full of stuff. See Goodbye Hoarders. I’m a big believer in getting rid of things. It’s my free therapy. See Craigslist Angel’s. It truly is contrary to my belief system to store something I would never use. So when my sister pulled out my wedding gown to clean under the bed, it suddenly felt kind of stupid to put it back.
I’m supposed to be cleaning out my parents’ house. I shouldn’t be keeping any of my stuff there, I thought.
Rule One of de-cluttering is to get rid of stuff that doesn’t belong to you. My parents shouldn’t be keeping a big box of white dress for me, taking up valuable real estate under the bed.
When I first married I really wanted to keep my dress. My parents, who are still married, had a big church wedding back in the day. My mother looked beautiful.
I like tradition, antiques, old houses, etc. and I totally would have worn my mother’s wedding gown when I got married. But my mother didn’t properly preserve it, it yellowed and she eventually just threw it away. My young self chastised her for this over the years and I swore I would always keep my wedding gown just in case future daughters unknown to me at the time might want to wear it. So after my wedding, I carefully packed away my gown, according to the instructions from a professional. And I left it at my parent’s house. I’ve moved many times over the years but the dress stayed at my parents’ house.
I did have daughters. See Fertile Myrtle. Technically this meant that there was a possibility that one of them might want to wear my dress. But the dress is woefully out of style. I got married when women were still allowed to have straps and sleeves. Still, any dress can be altered, and there is plenty of material to work with. But none of my daughters have any interest right now in vintage clothing, except for Halloween or dress up days at school. Even if they did, call me silly, call me superstitious, but it seems like bad Mojo to marry in a used wedding gown, even heavily altered, from a wedding where the marriage did not last. I’d gotten a lot of suggestions from my earlier post on possible other uses for the gown — dye it black and use it for Halloween, donate it to particular groups that collect gowns, theater groups, etc. But as I looked at the big box with my birth name on it, I was sure of two things:
(1) I need to get it out of my parents’ house; and
(2) I sure as hell didn’t want it in my house.
I also didn’t want to take the time to find a proper home for the dress. I didn’t much care whether or how it was used again. And I was also quite sure that I didn’t want to touch it. I was almost afraid of the damn thing.
It was freaking me out.
So I put it in my car — my beloved car, where I spend way too much time. It is my refuge. See My Very Own Personal Olympic Games. But since my car is my refuge, I didn’t want to leave the gown in there either. Bad Mojo. I didn’t want it to infect the only space I have for me. Then I started to have visions that I would get into a car accident and they would find my bloodied wedding gown in the wreckage — and think I had some connection to it — that I had kept it for sentimental reasons –that I was purposely driving around with my wedding gown because I must still be in love with my Ex-husband and — and NO!
I’ll say it again. The gown was freaking me out.
I’d been doing some Spring cleaning in my own house (free therapy after an emotional time) and had a couple of things I wanted to drop by Goodwill. Goodwill, if you don’t know, is a charitable organization benefiting the disabled which is funded largely by Thrift Stores. (Yeah, I looked it up.) During my move from the marital home I spent a lot of time at Goodwill, giving away many of my possessions. I’ve shopped there, too, finding good buys, especially with furniture and wall decor. So I stopped by my house and grabbed the few other items that I planned to donate and took myself to Goodwill, making a special trip. Had it not been for the gown I would have waited until I had more stuff to drop off, but this had suddenly become quite urgent.
Still, I had some doubts. Consequently, I had a little conversation with myself on the ten minute ride:
Should I take the dress out of the wrapping?
(Why should I? I don’t want to see it.)
But what if I’d hidden money or something valuable or embarrassing in the box?
(But I didn’t. Those pesky photos of my husband and a stripper were never stored there. My boudoir photos I made for my husband during happier times have long since been destroyed.)
What if the wedding dress had yellowed or gotten otherwise ruined?
(Well, then the kind folks at Goodwill will dispose of it for me.)
Shouldn’t I let my daughters see it one time? Maybe try it on?
No. They’ll want to keep it, because they are hoarders-in-training. I can’t even let them know that it was in the car, because they’d have what I would deem as a morbid interest in it. And, it’s my dress, my memories. My kids did not exist when I got married. They have no right to keepsakes of my memories that predate them. I still have some of the wedding photos, that’s enough. If I abided by the reasoning that I must not destroy things related to my relationship with my kids’ father, then it follows that I should have kept the boudoir photos for my kids too, right? Wrong — and ick. Plus, if I saw any of my girls try the gown on, even just for fun, I think I’d have a panic attack and start screaming to the visual representation of my younger self standing in front of me — Run! Run! RUN! See Almost a Runaway Bride. No, I could not handle it. No, no. Did I say no? No.
Plus, when you think about it, my husband wore a rented tuxedo when he married me. He didn’t even keep his wedding attire for more than a day. Why do I have to keep this — thing — forever?
So, without any ceremony or further ado, I pulled around to the back of the Goodwill thrift store and left the box that contained my wedding gown on the concrete slab.
And that, as they say, was that.
And you know? I feel really good about it.
One less thing in my parents’ house, one less item from my marriage that I have to think about or make room for.
I have lightened my load. The dress wasn’t even my house yet it still haunted me. Just being in close proximity to the box that contained it led to irrational thoughts. It needed to go. I’m sure at one point one of my kids will ask where my gown is. I’ll simply say that I got rid of it, just like my mother had. If my girls marry, they can choose their own dresses, without resurrecting my vintage error in judgment.
As my oldest child is moving on to his next stage in life, preparing to leave the nest, it seemed like a good time clean up some of my old stuff. It was time to grow up and stop storing items I can’t even look at under a twin bed at my parents’ house.
So I’m good with it. So good.
Just Me With . . . no wedding gown, not anymore.
I can’t help but wonder how much it’ll go for in the store, it sure cost me plenty, in more ways than one.
If you’ve read my previous post, “You Don’t Have To Bring a Date, Come Alone. Come Alone. COME ALONE!” you know that I was alternatively stressed, concerned, pissed and kinda bummed by the repeated suggestion that I come alone to a dinner party. Here is the update.
Yes, I went alone. Yes, and as I predicted, it was fine.
Let me set the scene. It was at a private home, more like an estate. The night was beautiful so everything was set outside –cocktails and hors d’oeuvres for an hour, then a buffet dinner at tables around the pool. It was a catered affair with gorgeous centerpieces and decorations all in pink and white, to celebrate Cheryl’s being cancer free. Guests were also encouraged to wear pink, and on behalf of those who did, Cheryl would donate money to Cancer research. Everyone had on some sort of pink. It was a really classy affair, with around fifty guests.
Okay enough with the back drop, this is how it played out.
- I walked in alone.
- I was greeted by Cheryl who immediately introduced me to, let’s call her, Regina, who was the ONLY OTHER SINGLE PERSON THERE!
- Cheryl informed the group I was standing with that Regina and I were seated at the same table –because we were THE ONLY SINGLES THERE!
Awkward? Yes. Appreciated? Yes. It made sense, actually.
- After Cheryl made the announcement that Regina and I would be dining partners, Regina joked, “But we’re not a couple!”
Of course I took that opening to add, “Well, the night’s young.” Ha ha ha, the Tears of a Clown.
- Then, someone noticed, not me, that one of the ladies standing in my group HAD ON EXACTLY THE SAME BLOUSE I DID! The same pink, jeweled halter top.
I swear, that has never happened to me before. We laughed it off. She said she’d picked hers up in the islands, Martinique, I think, while on vacation.
“Where did you get yours?” she asked.
And me, being painfully truthful, admitted, “At a consignment shop.”
At a consignment shop.
Let’s review, shall we? She got hers while on an exotic island vacation. I got mine at a thrift store.
There are two things wrong with this:
One: I admitted I was wearing a used shirt. No shame in wearing second hand clothes, but sharing that information isn’t necessary. It’s not like telling folks you have a rescue dog — one of the few situations where the wealthy applaud acquiring someone else’s cast offs. I should have said my blouse was a rescue. My snappy comebacks come years late … but I digress.
Two: I thought the beauty of buying at a consignment shop was that you were less likely to get something that someone else has! I mean, seriously? It was the only top like that in the store, of course. Indeed it was the only top like that I’ve ever seen. Oh snap, I guess it’s because I don’t vacation in the islands, or vacation at all. Crap.
Wait, there’s a third thing wrong with this — WE WERE WEARING THE SAME SHIRT!
Eventually I made my way away from my shirt twin to some familiar faces. As Cheryl promised there were a couple of couples I knew because they had kids the same age of mine and who are in the same activities. One was the same couple who, at the graduation party, had walked away from me. But this time they were very talkative and friendly. The husband reminds me (and my kids) of McDreamy on Grey’s Anatomy.
And we did the suburban parent thing and talked about our kids, college applications, etc. The other couple introduced themselves to me as if we’d just met, which was weird, since I’ve been running into and exchanging pleasantries with this couple since our high school senior kids were in the fourth grade.
- In discussing their children’s college application process, the couples shared that their children blamed them for having not gone through any hardship about which they could write about on their essays, “Oh yes, she’s mad because we’re successful and not divorced and she has had what she needs. Can you believe that? Yes, we’re sorry we’ve given you a good life.” I couldn’t even summon up the Tears of a Clown to respond to this particular topic, as I stood between the two couples. Though I did discover that one of the moms had NOT gotten into the college I went to. Score one for me. Empty victory, because she was being nice, damn it.
- Cheryl had hired a professional photographer and also took pictures herself. The couples were asked to pose together. I was asked to pose by myself. Regina was also asked to pose by herself. Yup.
When the party moved to the assigned poolside tables, I sat between the McDreamys and the only other single person at the event, Regina. I discovered that Regina was divorced with children and in the midst of downsizing so we talked about the whole downsizing, moving, process, etc. and I chatted with her and the other couples about our kids, etc. I think the people (and by people, I mean couples) on the other side of the table may have been interesting, but the centerpiece was too big to talk over. They must have been listening to our conversation, however, because in the buffet line a woman asked if I was a professional organizer because I seem to know so much about it. Ha!
No, I’m not a pro. But yeah, I know a lot about it. I know a hell of a lot about moving and downsizing . . . but I digress . . .
And that was that, except that at some point someone said, I think it was Regina, “I heard someone else here has on the same top, is that true?” And I, of course, helpfully, pointed her out. My shirt twin was at the next table, as it turns out. I added that, “Well, I had wondered if I’d be dressed appropriately. Clearly,” gesturing to my shirt twin, “I am.” Ha ha ha, Tears of a Clown.
The party wound down, I left when everyone else did. It was nice, fine, a lovely affair. It was the kind of party I used to like to look at from a distance, “Oh look, rich people are having a party!” And then I’d drive or walk by to try to catch a glimpse. It was good to be more than a fly on the wall, or a nosy neighbor, or a creepy stalker.
But, as to the whole “Come Alone!” thing — no, Cheryl did not have an ulterior motive and play matchmaker for me, unless, of course, you count Regina.
And yes, I was fine without a date. As far as I could tell, and based on Cheryl’s comments, all the other couples were married. It was not a casual date kind of party. It still would have been okay to have brought a date, but it was okay without.
This does not mean, however, that I will forever go to these things alone. Nope.
Just Me With . . . a shirt twin, a lady dinner date, and a new career as a professional organizer.
P.S. Cheryl actually did a great thing by having assigned tables, especially when there are only a couple of singles and some guests who don’t know many other people. I didn’t have to walk up to a table of couples and ask if I could join them or wait by myself for coupled up strangers to sit with me. And at least I wasn’t seated with my shirt twin.