What I Like, What I Need, What I Can Do Without

I got dressed this morning, quickly. In fact, for the last 10 months or so, it has been effortless to get dressed. Whether I’ve been dressing for a date night, work meeting, or a day of play with my son, I’ve somehow become low maintenance, and I can go from sound asleep to out the door in 15 minutes (including eating breakfast) if I must.

Leaving the fickle New England weather is hardly the reason I’m suddenly so easy to dress. No, its more of a self-realization and self-actualization.

It’s that I finally understand my style. Sure, it has taken me the better part of 29 years to know what I like, or if I’m just trying to fit in. I remember when Seven Jeans were really popular my freshman year of college. I went and bought the first pair I found that fit me. I wore them a few times, but I never felt confident in them, and that is the one thing that a really fantastic pair of jeans like sevens should impart. My silly self was about the label then, not the style or fit. But when I go shopping now, I don’t buy a dress just because it is my favorite color by my favorite designer. I don’t try to teeter on heels I can’t walk in, and can’t remember the last time I wore mascara. I don’t need pre-approved adornments to face the world anymore, and I do not feel my authentic self when I’ve masqueraded in others’ ideas of what is acceptable.

With all the leftover time I have now (usually sometimes my husband takes longer to get ready than me) I’ve been trying to observe the intangible aspects of my life through the same lens. I think it’s interesting how I have periods where I feel the need to acquire and possess (I once ransacked the house for one specific bag only to find out I left it at work), and then periods where I just want to strip life down to the barest elements. I’m sure I’ve gotten rid of at least 40% of my closet in in the last year. I’ve given away boxes and boxes of once sentimental clothing, and I ruthlessly throw away birthday cards, candid pictures, and travel souvenirs.

This weeding of my life materialism often mirrors my writing: I’ve written over 1,500 words to get to this point, but I’m only going to publish, 6, maybe 7 hundred words. Whether its words or sweaters, I have weeded out the fatuous, ineffective, and abstruse. I hate clutter, anywhere. Some may call me obsessive: I call it an attention to detail, a character trait I hope will transfer to my writing. I want to compose something fresh and beautiful out of the words that have been around for hundreds of years. I love to organize because I love to prioritize. I like having options, though I hate being overwhelmed–complicated by my insatiable appetite for vocabulary and new outfits. I would rather choose between two than 500. I’ve needed new cross-trainers for weeks now, but every time I go try to pick them out, I end up putting eight pairs in my cart because I can’t decide. I love it when I find a way to wear my favorite t-shirt of the Wave of Kanagawa in a new way; I love playing with words in the same way I used to like playing dress up (ok, I still play dress up for when I have important things like interviews and wedding parties).

The point is, my sweet readers, I feel like I’m closing in on my life’s essence. What I really need–physically and metaphysically. I understand my tastes. It has taken me years of teaching myself to enjoy olives, martinis, corn-on-the-cob, and jalapenos; it took me even longer to learn I have no use in my life for foundation and eyeliner, hot curlers, hi-lo skirts, and cheap jewelery. Words are–without a doubt–less objective, and its hard to know what will work when at what time, but I think I’m starting to hear the voice that is going to tell my stories.

My closet is still enormous. I definitely have more pairs of jeans than I’ll ever need (I’m currently eying these on another open tab), but I can fit at least 90% of my clothes in my one closet now. No more struggling to get duffel bags stuffed with sweaters (or summer dresses in winter) to fit under the bed. My husband even has his own to freely hang his suits. There is–gasp–unused storage space throughout the house.

Too bad I can’t store the extra words I’m not able to use there.

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My thoughts...

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