Things. I live in a material world, and I am attached to things. I live in a house that is drowning in things. I’m trying to let go of some. I had a revelation, once: though I grew up with Depression-era parents and internalized the notion that anything perfectly good should never be thrown out if it has any use left in it, my revelation, after one more move between apartments, was this: that something has some use left in it doesn’t mean *I* have to use it. Let it go, throw it back into the stream of usable things, remember that “reduce/re-use/recycle” means it can have a new life with someone else…. Still, things hold memories for me. I pick up an object and the memories flood back into my mind, of people, or a moment, a place.
I’d like to try letting go by hanging on to the memory and disposing of the things. Today’s item: a towel. Melissa Henchen, who runs a dog-rescue operation, sent out a call for old towels and sheets. I have never been able to get myself to dispose of old towels and sheets: they *clearly* have some use left in them, however torn, worn, or ragged: they can be a banner, a rag, something to mop up a flood in the house. But this is my chance to get rid of some, for a good cause.
Here’s a towel I pulled out. Nothing special about it, just an old white towel, serviceable but somewhat thin. We have plenty newer, thicker, prettier, better towels we use more often. So I can let it go. But then I noticed the writing. Someone has written something on the edge. It looks to me like the letters “HC”.
I don’t know where the towel came from. It could have been an auction, or it could have been in the house since my father lived here with his first wife. But if the letters are the initials “H. C.”, they could stand for Henry Carmichael. That would be my father’s step-father, our Grandfather Henry, whom I don’t think we ever met before his death in the early 1980s, but who sent us things like coins and good wishes. After his death, we received a few things: a television set that settled in the front room, a chair from a dining set my father remembered, coins. And maybe this towel.
Without knowing Henry, without having been close, there are no strong memories here. And perhaps this wasn’t his towel. But it may have been. And now, as I pass it on, it loses any tenuous connection it had to him, to my family. Any lingering memories are severed, meaning, if there were any, lost. So it is. The dogs need it.
One Thing down.