In my very first Roadside Fires Burning post, I wrote about the struggle of parting with the things collected over the years, the important difficulty of splitting things up emotionally versus logically. Then a few months later I wrote about it again here, apparently unable to get over the darn materialism dilemma. So the time came—once we finished Race Across the West (I’ll write about it someday, promise), Evan returned from his week-long mountain biking voyage around the American Southwest, and I came back from my life changing experience at Squaw Valley Community of Writers—to actually, really, pair down what we need (literally or emotionally) and what we have just been wanting to hold onto. We had a yard sale and plenty of people came to buy our records and books, but we still ended up taking a lot to Mind Cure Records and a used book store, to the Goodwill, and putting things on the internet to pawn off on friends. We got rid of so much stuff, and the more stuff we got rid of, the better it felt. We still own so much, though, and as I slowly work towards putting things away, I realize: I don’t think I will wear this dress for the next two years, why did I insist on keeping it? Do I really need all these books, records, desk lamps?
SERIOUSLY, WHY DID I KEEP SO MANY DESK LAMPS?
So now we go through the process of putting things away and realizing another step in letting go. So much of what we hold on to is a fear in needing something of which we’d let go. What if I’m invited to another party in the fall where I need a very fancy dress that doesn’t quite fit anymore? What if my room just can’t get bright enough and I need another lamp? What if I want to send a letter with this specific stationery I’ve had for 10 years and still haven’t used up? In the next few months we’ll have to make the hard decisions regarding what to do with these things we’ve been holding onto for so long. In spurs of inspiration, I make the notes of things I realize I don’t need, so that when the time comes to do the hard work, I don’t falter.
I’ve already started, setting things aside in a little pile to take to the consignment shop. What I had a hard time getting rid of I realize is just my guilt in owning something someone had picked out for me, regardless of my use or need for it, or even interest in it. That’s the real tough call, to separate to waves of emotion that are attached to an item, and figure out whose emotions they even are, and whether they are welcome. When I look at what I’ve paired down, almost every book or item of clothing sparks in me a joy to use it, but I can still see the gaps in the pleasure, the holes where there is an item my eyes don’t settle on, keep skipping over out of boredom, or notice passively and don’t care to register. I need to consider, honestly, why I hold on to things, why I’ve kept in in the past and why it’s so hard still to let go.
In reality, I don’t need any of it. I need my dog and husband, I need a working vehicle (we’re still working on that one). I need a change of clothes, a bicycle, and some money for food and gas. That’s really it. Everything else is just surplus. There is a fear in regretting having gotten rid of things. When I sold my GG Allin records, my pal Art, who is a longtime punk rocker, warned me of Post Punk Partum Depression, when punks get rid of all their punk stuff and immediately regret it and can’t get it back because it’s all kind of collector’s items compared to the mass produced stuff of major media. Already I have a longing to hear songs I haven’t listened to in years, but I know it’s just my mind playing tricks on me. I’ve done this before, and while I do genuinely regret getting rid of those Dostoyevsky hardbacks, I can’t say I miss all the Doors and Kinks records that are so easily replaceable today. As it stands, we’ve kept boxes upon boxes of records and books. Maybe we’ll put them in storage while we’re on the road. Maybe we’ll forget about them. I’m guessing that by the end of our stay here on Pauley Street, we’ll have reassessed what we really value and will continue to get rid of even more. In the end, it’s all just stuff.