Wednesday, August 23, 2006


I had a garage sale last weekend. I’m trying to get my head fully around the concept: I am not my stuff.

I carted boxes of said stuff to the driveway and thought about those days back in college where I could fit everything I owned in my car. I loved that agility. But as I grew up I felt an increasing need to define myself by my possessions. I collected books whose titles on my shelf showed my literary taste and education. I collected antiques to show my appreciation for bygone eras and to show my eclectic quirkiness. I filled my walls with art to indicate my culture and talent. I brought back chochkies to brag of my worldliness and my esteem for other places.

And how much was for me? True, I like being able to grab a favorite book or be reminded of a wonderful trip. But perhaps my nesting wasn’t for my own comfort but rather a shorthand way to express my life and beliefs to visitors. As I looked around my crowded house, I realized I’d gotten hooked by the oldest, elementary school form of “they’ll like me if I’m the one with the coolest toy.”

Last time I moved it took a pickup, a flatbed trailer, a delivery van, an SUV, a sedan, and the hands and backs of several generous friends. I have too much stuff. But how can I get rid of those things that create my identity? Ah. I finally get that they don’t. I have begun sifting through my home. How many things am I holding onto because of the image I believe they project about me? How many because someone gave them to me and I feel bad about letting them go even though it’s not my taste or doesn’t serve me? How many just because they’ve been around so long I’m used to them?

So if I’m not my stuff, then what am I? Am I my writing? Partly, but that is also artifice, and poetic license. Am I my love? It’s a valid conjecture that we are who we love and how we express that love. But that doesn’t feel like the whole of it. Am I what I believe in? That could get us going in the right direction. But it feels like the journey to belief is just that – a journey rather than a definitive answer. So then, what am I? I don’t think I can give a satisfactory answer just now. But I can tell you one thing. I am not this Z Cavaricci sweater anymore.

I sat on a warm Saturday and watched strangers paw through my things. I tried to keep a Zen perspective on things and let them go. The money is not the important thing, I told myself. Let them go! My boyfriend grinned as I got hooked by my antique type writer and priced it way above reasonable garage sale expenditures. Alright so I’m no Zen master but at least I’m aware of my stuff issue. I’ll get more of what I feel my old Royal is worth on eBay anyway.

I’ll probably never be able to fit all my possessions in my car again. For one thing, my car is far smaller than the boat I had in college. But that’s OK. I think the important thing here is that I realized my stuff is just stuff. It’s a reflection of facets of my inner self. Not my self. And as for my home being a shorthand description of me for visitors. Why make it easy for people to distill my essence or get a handle on me? Am I not doing them a disservice by taking away part of the get-to-know-you journey?

Today, all I know is this is a journey and I’m determined to check less baggage from now on. Anyone wanna buy an old typewriter?

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Blogger Kid Sis said...

I want to buy an old typewriter! Seriously, I was going to buy one off ebay. I'd much rather have yours. Let's talk.

And you're absolutely right about hoping strangers will get your tastes from looking around your house...I've been thinking that's why I spent way too much on DVDs.

7:00 PM  

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