Thursday, March 3, 2011

Rock on

Yesterday I lost my car key. Not my whole key chain full of keys. That would have been much easier to find. Just the one car key. It was alone because I had just picked up my car from the body shop the day before, and I had not yet returned it to it's home with the family of keys on my Snoopy key chain.
My car was in the body shop because for my 38th birthday someone tried to surprise me by stealing my car. They failed, however, and instead surprised me by breaking my lock and tearing apart my ignition. So I decided to go ahead and start parking in my garage again, like I used to. Late Tuesday night I went out to the driveway and moved my car in. I pocketed my key (ding!) and after closing the garage door, I rearranged the cat food and cat boxes to make it a better fit. I came in the house through the garage instead of the front door (here is where I bungled the whole bit- take me off my routine and it all goes to pot), and kicked off my shoes then headed to wash my hands and put on pajamas. I took off my sweatshirt and threw it on my office chair and got ready for bed.
The next morning my key was nowhere to be found. A was beside herself with frustration over having to walk to school. M wasn't speaking to me because it made her late. They walked off together in a huff towards school while I wracked my brain to retrace my steps from the night before. I checked my pockets and they were empty. At close to 2 pm I found my lonely little car key on the floor under my desk. When I tossed my sweatshirt onto the chair, it must have flown out of the pocket. Mystery solved, and shins only slightly bruised from all the kicking myself I did.
While trapped at home I decided to make good use of the time. I cleaned out my bedroom and closet. As in took out everything I own and cleaned it all, and started (but have not yet finished) putting it back in better order. While my room was empty of all but the furniture, I vacuumed and that's when I found my key. Arrrgh.
My bedroom was simple to tidy up. But my closet, my very big closet, is a much bigger chore. I have 5 years of clothes in there, ranging in size from 6 to 12. I will never be a 6 again, so I feel safe giving those jeans to charity. But maybe I will be a 12 again? Better save them. T-shirts and sweaters also needed to be sorted. As well as odds and ends I had stashed here and there on the shelves and in drawers to save. As I have gotten older, I have become wonderfully unsentimental. After saving every single thing that came my way, it feels very freeing not to be so bound to trinkets. It went from being impossible to throw anything away to nearly impossible to keep anything. But just very recently, the pendulum has begun to swing back, and I am finding myself in old thought patterns again. Reasoning with myself to hold on to this or that because just maybe...
Most of my "just maybe's" have to do with the girls. They might want it as a remembrance, or they might appreciate having it someday. And occasionally my "just maybe" has to do with value. Some of my older belongings are now considered "vintage" and if I ever took the time I might find they are worth something. The most crippling "just maybe" of them all is that I might regret giving something up. It happened once recently and it stopped my unsentimental way right in it's tracks.
I have been reading books on childbirth. Childbirth in America, history of childbirth, the technical, the personal narratives, etc. With my first child about to turn 18 years of age, these books have taken me down memory lane. Especially the books of women telling their birth stories. I suddenly remembered the rocking chair I received for my 20th birthday. I was 8 months pregnant. My mom and Michael had purchased it at an unfinished wood furniture store and stained it for me. I put it in A's room, once we had an apartment where she had her own room, with my giant purple pillow my mom had quilted for me when I was in elementary school. Mike and I would sit there when we were rocking Amanda to sleep at night. And then M, when she came along.
Many years later we moved to a tiny house on Vandenberg AFB. The majority of our possessions remained boxed in our garage as the house was too small. We were not allowed to have yard sales on the Air Force base, so the boxes remained unopened in the garage. My rocking chair was in there, as well. No room for it in the house.
When we moved to our current home, we were living off base for the first time in years. I got to open all of those boxes and yard sale all the hundreds and hundreds of clothes and toys and books we had outgrown and stored for all that time. Cue unsentimental-ness. It felt so wonderful to make space in both the garage and the house by letting things go. It was almost an addiction; what else can I sell?? It wasn't for money, as I sold everything for very little, and gave a great deal of it away for free. I just felt very unburdened when I made more and more empty space. "How could I have ever thought this stuff was important to own, when we weren't using it?" I thought. "Other people need this, and I let it sit in boxes. How terrible of me," I reprimanded myself.
When I was having my second or third yard sale after moving here, and I was well on my empty-garage high, a man pointed into my open garage and asked in broken English, "how much for the rocking chair?" I hadn't intended to sell it. But there was no room for it in the house at that time, and his pregnant wife and three toddlers looked like they needed it more than I did. I can't remember what price I told him. I didn't let it go for dirt cheap, but I did make it a price they could afford so I know it wasn't much. I felt a pang of loss, but I thought it was good for me. I should not be so attached to material things. They would use it, whereas I only had it sitting unused in my garage at that point. It was good. A good thing to do.
Now, years later, I feel like my chair is missing. I want to sit in it while I read all of my childbirth books. I look around and all I can see is place after place the chair would fit perfectly.

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