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Half of Me

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In an effort to simplify and downsize my life, I've begun going through my belongings. You know the drill. Saving this, chucking that. It's a process I haven't done to this extent in the entire six years I've lived in this house. Needless to say, I've accumulated a lot of crap. OK, it's not crap. Well, some of it is crap. But mostly it's just stuff that when push comes to shove (or when the day comes that I need to fit myself and my life into a much smaller space...), I can do without.

What has surprised me though about this summer's possession slim-down is how much I own that did not come from these six years. How much of it precedes my time in Cleveland, and by quite a bit, too. Like the Birkenstocks* I bought when I was in junior high. I didn't have a lot of cool brand-name stuff back then, and my parents would never have bought me Birkenstocks, so if I wanted them (and I did, badly), it was up to me to come up with the money. The Birkenstocks--a funky pattern of blue and pink and orange and still in great shape after costing me an at-the-time small fortune of $80 back in 1996--I am getting rid of, and while I am logical enough to let the fact that I haven't worn them in years win out, I do feel a pang of loss at the thought of giving them up. Because they remind me of a much younger me and, more importantly, the feeling I had while walking home from the bus stop that first day with them. I was wearing the Birkenstocks with a pair of black Nike socks (also new) pulled up almost to my knees. A look that, believe me, was as amazing as it sounds. And to the tune of Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm," the little song I made up as I approached my house was: "I got Birkenstocks, I got Nike socks..."

Something I will never get rid of is the picture at the top of this post, which sits framed on my bedside table even today. A teenager when it was taken, it struck me this week while sorting things into various piles of crap that I am exactly twice as old now as I was in this picture. Which makes this half my life ago. Half my life. From my seat as a well-educated adult out living life, making choices, and pursuing dreams, it's sometimes hard to believe that my life as a kid at home with my siblings was only half my life ago. How different our phases of life are. How far away they can seem, even though we can recall the most trivial details as if they were yesterday (such as my Birkenstock memory). And how much we collect along the way.

*Keep in mind that in the Pacific Northwest, Birkenstocks are considered the "it" footwear brand. At least they were in the 1990s.

 

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