Somewhere between the teen years and middle age I became very aware of my home and surroundings and the necessity to have a "place for every thing". As I grew in years, clutter disappeared and I stopped bringing items into my home that I didn't either love or actually need. Stuff minimized, dust rarely settled, and clutter-free lines and space became my preference.
It wasn't always like that. Growing up, my bedroom was referred to as "the pig pen" by my parents who repeatedly told me to either clean it up or keep the door closed. Although I had ample closet and dresser space, my clothes usually lived in piles covering the floor. In short, it was a mess and the door was always closed, even on hot, humid Ohio nights.
In my 20s I lived in a tiny one room studio apartment and that is perhaps where the transition began. There simply was no place for endless stuff or untidiness. I moved into the apartment with my clothes, a few garage sale pots and pans, and a sofa that pulled out into my bed. That was it. Slowly the home filled but I learned to edit as I went and the space was actually perfect for me. I loved that apartment and lived there for several years.
My 30s brought better jobs that netted bigger apartment budgets and more space to fill, but I managed to remain true to my need for useful and cherished possessions. It also brought the loss of some of my dearest loved ones and the beginning of an accumulation of their possessions that I continue to carry with me today. This collection of mismatched and very random items has grown significantly but I'm okay with that.
In short, I have become the minimalist with a lot of other people's stuff.
There's the single black and gold high ball glass I remember my Dad liked so much, although I have no memory of him ever drinking from it, and all the remaining glasses from the set are long gone. The silk tassels from my dear Mrs. Smith-- the ones she kept in her nightstand but for her own personal reasons unknown to me, couldn't part with are with me too as is my grandmother's blue cookie tin that never held cookies but always sat on the corner shelf of her living room-- I have them all stored carefully in a cabinet in my dining room, all out of sight but perfectly protected.
The most recent acquisition-- blue and white "pigs" salt and pepper shakers belonged to my late step-father's first wife-- She loved them so he kept them on a shelf in the living room he and my mother shared for 20 years. None of his five children wanted them when Dave passed away two years ago this week, but I figured if he couldn't part with them, then they shouldn't land in their garage sale so I kept them for him, safe in my cabinet.
When I carefully unwrapped my favorite "pointy black olive dishes" as they've always been referred to, I burst into tears-- something that caught me a bit off guard. These dishes graced the dining table of my youth-- the times when we used the "good china" and "fancy napkins". They each held a jar of black olives, which for our large, budget conscious family, was considered a real treat. These dishes were always the last thing dad would place on the table before dinner was served but the first things that were eaten and emptied before anyone even had the chance to sit down and say grace.
Those "pointy dishes" were hot targets for me and my young siblings and olives were swiped by the handful despite Mom and Dad's best efforts to chase us away and "save them for company".
All of the "points" are chipped and sharp, making the dishes totally unusable but still, I can not bear to part with them. Their memories are too vivid and the happiness and laughter they brought to our family over the years are still to fresh-- or is it raw?-- since my dad passed away so very long ago.
My cabinet is filled with eleven pairs of crystal candlesticks from countless loved ones who passed them on to me because they knew "I'd keep them safe". There's also the silver candle sticks my parents gave my dad's folks for their 25th wedding anniversary. These are one of the few things I use on a regular basis-- and always keep them polished out of respect, and frankly pride, that I have them.
I found it very unsettling to look out over my dining room table and living room this week-- dust, clutter and stuff everywhere. I've come to realize that perhaps I'm getting a little eccentric in my old age with "the need for clean" as a sink with a few dirty dishes, an untidy closet or a room covered in plastic makes me uncomfortable and, dare I say, unable to sleep until it's tidied up.
It's also true that my collection of stuff will no doubt continue to grow as more loved ones pass and mementos are shared with me. I wonder what will happen to it all when I'm gone. That is a questions I probably will never have an answer to.
Looking around our home, there are so many things I love and cherish-- all carefully selected and accumulated over the nearly 25 years my husband and I have been together. I wonder if they'll be passed on and loved as dearly as we do. Each hold special memories and most have a story about how or where we found them. I'd like to think at least some of our things will be cherished by the younger generation and not relegated to a garage sale, but again that is an answer I will never know.
But, it's truly the random, mismatched items in my cabinet that pull at my heartstrings the most and bring that lump in my throat that makes me swallow hard not to cry. Each piece has a story, some known only to the person that gave it to me, but a story nevertheless that I hold dear and cherish.
Do you accumulate have "random stuff"?
Welcome to www.TheFiftyFactor.com - Joanna Jenkins
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