The difference between drowning and acting crazy is the burning sensation in your lungs as you go under and the fact that you don't know how you're viewed in other peoples eyes until somebody decides to tell you.
I spent some time cleaning out my closets this week and had to develop a standard for what would stay and what should go. After several false starts, half a movie and two large cups of hot tea I settled on the idea that if you haven't seen it, touched it or used it in the last year, you probably don't really need it. Now, I immediately jumped up and started sorting through the corners of all my forgotten things, but the depth of that idea began creeping into my work.
The easy laugh is to consider for a moment all of the people I have known who have been, chaste, for said period of time. If you don't need the equipment, what do you do when you can't get rid of it. I guess someone smarter than me already considered that since those things serve dual functions.
But what does it mean for people around you. Can you really call someone family when you haven't seen each other or spoken in years, decades even? Does time really matter between friends who have shared experiences that only the two of them can appreciate and joke about?
As I walked down the stairs with my third armful of old socks and bed sheets that were either too short of the correct thread count or could easily be dated to the mid 90's, I stumbled over what I thought was my small dog at the bottom step, but turned out to be an old shoe that lacked it's partner.
Where the shoe came from I have no idea, and why I had kept something that I could only put on one foot with holes in the toes and no heel, was at that moment beyond me. I ignored it, until I started to find other articles that I no longer wore, including one tight t shirt that was part of my 'look' ten years ago, but if I wore it today would actually deliver looks of the type I would not appreciate.
After Katrina washed everything away I didn't have a problem refilling my life with more stuff. Somewhere in the world, someone is sitting at a table or in a factory making things for us to buy right now. What did bother me was when I would walk around the house looking for things I forgot that I had lost. A book, a photo, a card with a special note in it.
It wasn't the first time I've had nothing to call my own. Several times in my life I've had the opportunity to walk away from everything and enjoy the freshness of starting over. It's the kind of excitement you feel looking at an empty page, or freshly tilled earth, or the empty branches of trees in the winter. Because you know that it will be filled again and sometimes, you get to decide with what.
I guess I keep my old shoes and shirts around because they remind me of a few moments in my life, when I chose to sow certain seeds, and grow myself in ways that still have meaning to me. Like those people who will laugh about that time in the car with the ficus tree in the middle of the night. Or the Mardi Gras with the dwarf and the goat, or even the the way the sun felt that day while sitting in the drive thru line ordering food from the cashier you were crushing on.
Old shoes are definitely the best to walk around in. Now if I can just find that other pair and fit into that too tight t shirt tonight.