Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The Why Am I's

photo via My Vintage Dollhouses

So every once in a while I want to organize my life.
I end up doing a half-assed job; doing enough to make the frantic beeping in my head stop and then move on to other tasks.
I am easily distracted by my own "to-do" list.

About two weeks ago, the community fire alarm went off and I was home working so I went to see what it was. It ended up being a sprinkler that blew in a neighbors garage, flooding it and drenching the contents. No fire, thank goodness...but it took over 4 hours to turn off the water!
The renter had all his work tools in the garage and what wasn't in a plastic box, was soaked.
The fire dept, couldn't turn off the water, because it was managed by the fire sprinkler company who couldn't come out until later that day to reset the sprinklers and the alarm people needed to stop the alarm but couldn't do it until the water was turned off. You see how this turned out...the "best part" was that the alarm for the sprinkler is not connected to a central call center/dispatch place. So it is really up to fellow neighbors to call police or fire department people.
If I wasn't home who knows how much longer that water would have poured into the garage and street!
I felt horrible for the neighbor, but more so frightened for our homes well being in our absence, because we don't really have outgoing neighbors.
If something happened to our home, I fear no one would call the people needed.
 Everyone would say " huh, why is that alarm going off? it is really bothering me" close their window and go about their business.
Sad but true. We live in a community of disconnected people.
(being the crazy lady I am, I am making a sheet of phone numbers of neighbors I say hello to on a regular basis and giving them our cell numbers too)

This of course set me into a personal tailspin of what ifs....
I started looking around our home and thinking of everything that would be destroyed by water, the cats would be traumatized but alive and wet. Then I went into our garage...ugh
We have collected many many many things. In fact when grandma's have passed we were delivered many boxes of "precious items" and "heirlooms" that we must have.
Plus my art exhibitions and framed work etc....
I went out and got a storage unit.

I spent this whole last weekend working through the boxes, and boxes of things...I have a hoarder living inside me apparently. We have boxes and boxes of things for the garage sale at the end of the month, and a pile of things that is going to the local thrift store.
But we also have several things in that new locker....mostly my things.
The biggest being my dollhouse.
My parents made me a doll house for my 7th birthday, it took several months to make. It was worked on every night in secret in their bedroom. They made it from discarded orange crates and found wood at the local market. My father created a wooden floor in the kitchen with a wood burning tool. The cupboards are made from butter dishes turned on their sides and scrap lace made the curtains. Each room has different carpet, as they are all scraps from the local carpet store. The roof is hinged as once the doll house was complete my parents realized it wouldn't fit through the bedroom door!
There is a picture of me next to the house on the day I got it, I am standing on a chair and doll house is next to me but still taller then I am.
Later, they made my brother a mechanics garage with fuel pumps and an attached home (kind of Sanford and Son-ish) using the same techniques.  
Needless to say, I am deeply, emotionally attached to this doll house
and I imagined I would pass it on to my child.
I have kept all the items that had, for years, decorated the home
and it seems more of a time capsule then anything else now.
It is substantial and takes up a lot of floorspace.

When hubby causally mentioned getting rid of it I broke down and started sobbing.
 How can I?!
(that question was never broached again)
We moved the doll house into the storage unit on Sunday, it has been entombed in many ways.

My brother is not sentimental with things, so I asked him how he can throw away/give away things that are so deeply linked to his childhood. Does he not have second guesses or regrets?
He simple said: they don't mean anything to anyone else but me. So why keep them?

 I am left dumbfounded...
I can't think of a person who it would mean something to besides myself.
In fact, that is the impression I am getting about much of what I can't seem to let go of.
old love letters, stories I wrote in elementary school that sheds light on my mind and emotions then.
Who am I holding on to this for? Why do I still need to know that it is there?

I feel at times that I am making strides in coming to terms with not being able to be a mother, and then stuff like this sneak attacks me.
It was like, The Barreness turned on the fire sprinkler and drenched me in the memories and the what should have beens. 

Until I can figure it out, I place them into plastic tubs and store them away.
At least I can keep them dry.


Mali said...

Oh, your doll-house is adorable! I wouldn't want to give that away either. I have a few things that are precious, but I notice since my infertility, and since my father died, I have beome less attached to things, more accepting that what is important to me isn't important to others.

That said, I do want my great-grandmothers' piano to go to a good home. But I worry that no-one will care for and love it the way I do. I think my sister and niece will - they're going to get it soon. I wrote about it years ago here - http://www.maliatoz.blogspot.co.nz/2008/07/p-piano.html

LaLa said...

I don't think I have anything as amazing as your dollhouse, but for years, I kept several fancy dresses from when I was a child; my kindergarten graduation dress of red gingham and 3 layers of lace petticoats with tiny bells sewn into the hem, so when I walked, I jingled. I adored that dress and felt like a princess wearing it. My ballerina costumes from dance - so many beautiful and meaningful things that I had hoped at worst would become part of a dress-up chest for my children.

I gave all of them away to Goodwill last year. It nearly broke my heart driving away - both for what it meant to give them away, and because I've been taught by my family of packrats that THINGS are important and must be kept forever...
but things are just that - inanimate objects that if they are not actively useful or something that you can at least keep out and enjoy them aesthetically, then they are not serving their purpose in life.

I have pictures, and I have my memories. I don't need the things so much any more, and that has made it easier to let go of stuff I've held onto "just in case." It has also made me kind of happy thinking of the little kids twirling around in my old tutus and dresses as a Halloween costume or dress-up play.

But I know it is horribly difficult to take those steps, so no judgements here. You do what you feel comfortable doing.

Nicole said...

That sounds like the most amazing doll house I have ever heard of!! What a cool gift!

That flooding situation sounds scary, I definitely want to get all my keepsakes packaged up well (and Ross' - his are always in a disarray) to avoid any losses. I am probably more like your brother, in that I can get rid of stuff with ease, but things that really mean something to me, I definitely hold very close. I can totally see why you'd want to hold onto your doll house! It sounds amazing.

A lot of my childhood keepsakes are still in my parents attic, and I am being told I will have to go through them soon. My sister would like to have a child, and if that happens, I would like to be able to give some things to that child. Otherwise, I am planning to look to my friends' children and Ross' cousins/potential siblings' children to give some of my fond mementos...

It is a hard thing to think you'll never have a person to pass on things too. I look at all my vintage jewelry - most of which was my grandma's and great-grandmother's - and wonder who I will pass it on to one day and who will care.

beautiful, thought provoking post.

Stinky said...

Wow. So much in this post.

"I feel at times that I am making strides in coming to terms with not being able to be a mother, and then stuff like this sneak attacks me. "

I think the latter is all part of the former?

Yet when I read this and think of all the work and love your parents poured into making this doll's house, how can you easily throw that away, feels disrespectful somehow. I know we all perceive 'things', like possessionthings, differently in terms of value and attachment but I think I would feel similarly to you.

the closest I can relate is that I used to collect lego and spend HOURS with it. Kept it all at my parents house in a box, because of the nomadicyears and then subsequent emigration. I think my nephew got it to play with . . . I figured that it was better being played with and used than just sitting in a box for decades waiting for something that might not happen . . . I try not to think about it too much.

Living in earthquake prone NZ, I often think about what would happen if we lost everything and I keep coming back to 'well, they're just THINGS, they might be sentimental, but still just things'. I love my home and the things in it, and yes, I'm a hoarder too. Comfort is essential to wellbeing, but I try and approach it with the sense that all things are eventually impermanent, and while you can take steps to try and preserve the things that mean a lot to you, you can't truly guarantee the THINGS remain

Shasta said...

At least they are in plastic tubs!

BTW, friendly suggestion to not have centered type. It's very hard to read, for me.