Daily Use

HELLO January!


Here on the mid-Atlantic seaboard things have been unseasonably warm but my brain is still telling me to clean, mend and make stew. One thing I’ve finally decided is to throw everything out that I don’t absolutely love. Years ago, I read a frightening but empowering apartment makeover article in the deceased Domino magazine wherein the professional decorator at hand said — In order to keep things you must be able to say yes to two things, do you love it? do you wear it (or use it) ?

This means tossing bag-lady pajamas not fit to be seen grabbing the morning paper, sweaters that never quite fit and underclothes older than my marriage.  This includes house goods and things that while cheap were always ugly.

I was afraid but steeled myself to be strong. The problem is that I live in a rambling and slightly decrepit row-home with tons of space for junk, especially in my unfinished basement. So if questioning whether to toss or keep I decided to ask myself if it would fit in a one bedroom apartment. I really didn’t love any of it that much.

Another issue is that I didn’t grow up in a family with a lot to spare. I feel guilty throwing out perfectly good clothes and bleach striped towels. Couldn’t I make a quilt with those clothes? Couldn’t I keep all those ratty towels in case of a basement flood or painting project? Sure I could, but what is the emotional weight of being tied to objects that you hide away and don’t fit in your life?

My saving grace is that I assume all things find a new home at the thrift store. I imagine a person finding a donated object of mine and really loving it.

I think of the short story by Alice Walker, Everyday Use sometimes and think that things really precious need to be in your life all the time. Don’t wait to use that bone thin china you found or inherited. Don’t wait to wear that delicate piece of collar or ancient cashmere sweater. Tuesday next will do just fine.

I’m growing older and realizing that your life is meant to be lived today, not tomorrow not at some unidentified next party. Just you and those you love, sipping tea out of those stoneware mugs you found for a song, and you will be wearing something comfortable and beautiful that you didn’t hold back for something special.

as trite as it may sound, live simply and beautifully, surrounded by things you cherish.



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