Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Waste Not, Want Not

I don't like to own stuff. If I'm not able to move all my stuff quickly and efficiently in one car load, I get a little anxious. Even if I'm not planning to move. It just weighs me down. I can't really explain why. Part of it is that I like everything to have a place and a purpose. An immediate purpose. In my idealist of ideal worlds, I would own a 27-inch iMac, an iPad, an iPhone, a camera, a bed, very basic kitchen supplies, linens, art, and a teeny tiny wardrobe. Nothing more. No board games. No stapler. No swim goggles. I would go completely digital, obviously--all my TV, movies, music and books would be on my computer, iPhone, and iPad. (I would also own disposable items like shampoo and tampons, of course.)

And because of this drive towards nothing, I'm constantly looking to get rid of things. At least once a month, I slowly thumb through my closet trying to pare down my belongings, so that eventually I will only own necessities that I love. Think of how amazing it would be to open your closet and find a handful of basic, clean, well-kept items that you always feel like wearing. Ah, the beauty. So, I slide each hanger along the bar, slowly examining each item, weighing the pros and cons of keeping it. This can take hours. Sometimes getting rid of things is a struggle for me because in addition to loving the idea of owning nothing, I'm also pretty fiscally responsible. The phrase "waste not, want not" has haunted my life. If I get rid of this sweater that I never wear but still fits and is from a store that I love, will I regret it the rest of my life? The cost of keeping this item is zero dollars, but the cost of replacing it is much more, why would I throw it away? I'm not wearing this now, but if I get a different type of job or get invited to this type of event, wouldn't I want something just like this? These are the types of questions that rattle around as I slowly examine my entire wardrobe. My sister has witnessed this. It is a long, and excruciating process full of painful discussion and lots of trying on. And I love every second of it. (Poor Kim.)

In the end, I relearn the same conclusion over and over: there are certain items of clothing that, no matter how much I spent on them, where they came from, or what kind of condition they are in, I will never wear. Ever. And I can't even articulate what it is about these items that makes them utterly unwearable. They just aren't quite right. About a month ago I divided my closet into two sections: "for sure keep," and "probably get rid of." I decided I was going to make myself wear each item in the "probably get rid of" section. I was giving them all one last chance to wow me, and I was giving them this chance because I could still imagine falling in love again with all of these clothes. Not only did I hate putting on these clothes, but I hated them throughout the entire day. They fit fine, they are in fine condition, but I was absolutely itching to take them off. So, I got rid of them. All of them. And I don't regret it. In fact, I can't think of a single item of clothing that I regret getting rid of ever. I can't even remember 98% of the clothes I have owned. And maybe I should have a WWII rationing attitude about use and conservation, but it's 2011. I donate my old clothes that are still in good condition (so they don't fill up landfills), and I buy new ones. If I get a new job or need a specific item for an occasion I'll buy it, and it will be a fresh new addition to my wardrobe that I will love. To me, this is way more realistic (and fun).

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