Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sentiment for sale

There are times when I'm thrifting that I have to flip my emotional switch to the OFF position. I've seen so many very personal items on the shelves, and it makes my heart hurt a little wondering how they ended up at the Last Chance Texaco of sentiment.

So many wedding dresses.

I was married for a long time. I had a lavish wedding that eventually came to a less-than-fairy-tale conclusion. But my white poofy wedding dress is stored inauspiciously in my cedar closet downstairs. I just don't have the heart to give it up. Little bits of the past might be worth taking up a corner of a closet, merely because those elements signify some kind of passage, good or bad.

Before I continue, I must clarify that I have very little attachment to most things. I'm barreling toward 50 at what seems to be a breakneck speed, and I've come to realize that people - not things - hold the most treasured sentimental worth.

But there are some things, like my wedding dress, that I simply can't relinquish.

My son Logan is a potter, and I've kept every piece - good or bad - that he's made. I love to see the progress in his pieces, and I love to imagine him at the wheel, working to refine his plate, cup, pot, wind chime.

I keep CSAP test results and report cards, drawings and notes from and to the kids.

I have volumes of journals written to my boys that tell them all about life through my lens. Those journals include lots of personal information, just in case they're curious a few decades from now. After my mom died, I wish I could have found some travelogue of who she was, just to clear up a few things.

But like Jackie O's biography (not to be read until she's gone for 50 years), there's a moratorium on reading my journals until the boys are old enough to absorb what's inside.

Other than those evocative bits of the past, I don't hold much stake in my stuff.

Some folks have even less of an attachment to stuff than I do, though. I've seen personalized pottery (a big pasta bowl painted with 'To Mom With Love'), certificates of merit, framed family photos, hand made artifacts, all on a shelf at a thrift store.

Maybe there should be some thrift store protocol that separates the highly sentimental from the purely functional. Like looking through someone's underpants drawer or medicine cabinet, some items don't need to be put on display.

Because those items on a thrift store shelf that had a very love-driven initial intention need just a bit of honor.

If only for those of us whose hearts twinge just a little when they see tangible sentiment discarded.

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