Friday, July 12, 2013

Living simply

I don’t hoard. 

I retain items of personal value, that’s all.  Cards and letters.  Files.  Kitchen utensils.  Dishes.  Linens. 

It’s all orderly, you understand. 

There’s just a lot of it. 

I admit it.  We could have more closet space if it weren’t for my work clothes, for example.  Yes, that’s the collection of professional suits with matching blouses, scarves, purses and shoes that I wore to build the image of high school principal back in the days when I was one.

Sometimes I hanker just a tiny bit for those halcyon days – the days when my propensity for knowing it all carried some cache.  Maybe that’s why I haven’t sent those suits on to a deserving young woman trying to break into a noble profession like education. 

I don’t wear them around the house when I’m here alone.  Really I don’t.  I don’t put on that sweet corn-silk yellow one with the delicate embroidery at the lapel and go around glancing in the mirror knowingly, or wagging my finger or folding my arms with a wry smile. Ah, well…

A couple of times, I’ve pulled a couple of those suits off their hangers and put them in the Goodwill staging area, mostly to show my husband that I mean business.  I’m going to clean this closet out!

But then, in the moonlight, when he’s snoring that sweet gurgling sort of endearing kind of snore, I sneak them back into their color-coordinated slots. 

I mean it’s not like the closet is stuffed.  There’s room!  There’s plenty of room for me to take my time about letting go of those suits!  What’s the rush, for Pete’s sake?!  I’ve only been retired three years!

Occasionally, the resolve to sift and sort and simplify swells up.  Like this morning when the Today show had a segment on the treasures in our attics and they started talking about your grandma’s costume jewelry and how it’s wildly valuable now, especially if you have the history to go with the piece. 

Well, let me tell you, my grandma put herself together for any occasion that took her out of the house.  Not that 1950’s Oklahoma was high society.  For her, most outings involved Eastern Star events at the Masonic Temple or Wednesday nights at the West Side Baptist Church. 

No matter.  She decked herself out.

She donned the voile dresses and the open-toed shoes.  And hats!  Feather and fabric, netted and beaded.  Why she had a mink hat!  And a stole with multiple pelts complete with heads, beady eyes and feet, the kind with an alligator clamp in the critter’s mouth so he bit his own tail to secure his place on her shoulders.  She even had a full-length, full-on sort of gangsta-pimp mink with shoulder pads out to here. 

She looked good!  Always.  No detail escaped her keen eye.

Her closet was a fantasyland for me.  And her jewelry chest!  Every necklace had a matching brooch set with coordinating clip-on earrings.   She had finger rings in every size and color with a full array of glittering stones or beads or combinations thereof.

She didn’t want me in there unsupervised.  So, I had to be very quiet.

Once, when she hadn’t seen or heard me in a while, her suspicions were aroused.  She didn’t get up, but called out to me, “Carolyn?”

“Wha-at?”  I answered most innocently.  She triangulated and knew my transgression. 

“What are you getting into in there?”

“Nothing,” I lied. 

“Well, get out of it!”

Is that what they mean by knowing the history of an item?  Is that what makes my grandma’s glass beads and brooch collection hot on the market? 

Yes, it is.  And that’s what makes it priceless. 

Now my business suits could tell some tales too, as you can imagine.  It was public school, after all. 

Yes – I remember directing traffic in the parking lot on a hot day in June while wearing this classic herringbone ensemble.  And this crisp navy number evokes the day it was my turn to be pooped on by the ubiquitous sea gulls during lunchtime on the quad. 

Those were the days!   

OK.  Doesn’t pluck the nostalgia strings like Grandma’s jewelry.  But for now, no sale.