This weekend was a dust-covered, sweaty, mash-your-fingers-in-a-door-jam mess. The insurance company delivered about 30 cardboard boxes of cleaned items that had been pulled from our collapsing house last July. There was a satisfaction in prying open box after box to uncover belongings that survived the fire (or… sort of… survived the fire), but there was also a lot of amused frustration. “That damn painting,” I said as I pulled a truly crappy oil painting I’d done in high school from the box. “Why the hell did this piece of shit not catch fire but our photos did?”
Mom had the same reaction to being reunited with her boxes of her fine china. “I was hoping these had broken!” she whined, pulling out a twee-looking teacup from the 1950s. “We never used them.”
So now we’re planning an Ebay excursion. It’s not that this stuff isn’t treasured, in its own way: it’s that we’ve gone without it for nine months and forgot it existed. That’s how unimportant it is to us in the grand scale. She will mourn her Zuni pottery, and I’ll think fondly of my Playstation (may it rest in peace), but there is so much stuff that we’d collected along the way that we didn’t care about. It’s not really until you lose nearly everything that you realize how irrelevant most of it is.
On the plus side, I’m inheriting some of the extras for my new apartment. Uncaring that the sets don’t all have the same number of settings, I’m receiving a gorgeous set of crystal wine glasses, champagne glasses, and sniffers. That way when I veg out on the couch watching old episodes of House I can drink in semi-alcoholic style.
I guess what I’m saying is that no matter how much or how little you have, it’s easy to part with some fraction. Get rid of old things, and breathe a little larger.
Just don’t get rid of it with a house fire, because that’s ass.