Sunday, November 16, 2014

A time to gather possessions, a time to let go

Before I die, there's going to be some 'splaining to do.
This circa-1920s beauty is no relation to me. So why do I display her photo atop my bookcases in my living room? I call her Lucretia because it suits her. She's wearing a fur collar and likely a cashmere sweater. Her finely coiffed tresses are smooth and chic--quite unlike my tomboy hair wrestled into a ponytail. Yes, she's far too polished to be hanging out in my family tree. In my downsizing mode, I've unearthed precious photographs I've collected of women taken around 1900, the 1920s and the 1930s. Lucretia and the women in the other photos are not my ancestors. They were estate-sale finds from the previous chapter in my life, when I was gathering possessions. But now, in my new chapter, I'm letting things go. Dozens of things. Hundreds of things. Yet I still hold onto Lucretia. Why? Odd, isn't it?
Then there's this youthful scholar I've named Margaret. But I'm sure her friends called her Meg. She is a modern 1920s teen not afraid to let the boys see that she's both brainy and beautiful. I'm hopeful she was gutsy and had amazing adventures in her lifetime.
And then we have the Bunny Girl. Her name hasn't come to me yet. However, I'm intrigued as to why she is holding two bunnies in her arms in her studio portrait. Were these bunnies her pets? Was it fashionable to have one's photograph taken while holding rabbits? I know the perfect name for the Bunny Girl will come to me--possibly in my dreams. Collecting these women makes complete sense to me. I am not planning on getting rid of them anytime soon. I am a writer, and the women in these photos will populate the novels percolating in my head.
However, this stern old man, who I've named Hezekiah, is still in my storage unit. I'm thinking maybe it's time to let go of Hezekiah as I continue to lighten my load. He's the one who really caught my attention when I recently was knee-deep in my storage unit getting rid of more "stuff and junk" as my Swedish grandma, Lydia Blomgren Smith, used to say. I now have no extra furniture in my storage unit. I have let go of an antique armoire, a 1930s green chair and my daughter's white metal twin bed. Mostly what remains are some papers, lots of photographs, camping gear and odds and ends. I've decided to wait until the first of the new year to tackle my remaining stuff and junk. In the meantime, if I'm hit by a bus, daughter, please note that none of these people are your ancestors. But they are dear friends of your eccentric writer mother.