Thursday, April 23, 2009

Material Possessions & The Open Road

When your material life can be packed into two rolling suitcases and a backpack, your possessions acquire a different kind of meaning. For the first time in my life I am aware of every single item of clothing I own, and the stories behind each of them--the sundress with red flowers handed down from my mom's college closet; the flowered skirt Maira sent down with Caitlin; the wool poncho Elsa brought back from Bolivia; the dress Mrs. Cunningham surprised me with...Each item of clothing seems to hold its own story, and take on new memories as it gets carried from one Buenos Aires barrio to the next, and now from one South American city to the next.

I have a tendency to be an over-sentimental pack-rat as it is, so this new lack of space for acquiring material objects is GOOD in that I simply CAN'T gather much, but BAD in that I attach too much meaning to each little object. Take for example, Nick's jeans (uh-oh, now I am venturing over to attaching sentimentality to all of Nick's belongings, too...). He has been switching off between two pairs of jeans here, and needless to say, they are becomin' a little worn down. The other day, push-came-to-shove when Nick was putting on his jeans, and he...put his foot right THROUGH the knee...because the material was too thin. Yep...

So, alas, we decided to whip out the credit card and spring for a new pair of denim leg-warmers (so-to-speak), quite excitedly, I might add--an excuse to go shopping! But, we couldn't bare to throw out the old jeans. So, instead, I (lovingly) sewed a patch over the gaping hole and called it a day. Nick has been wearing them every other day, still, as if no hole ever occurred. Maybe we are both growing too sentimental...

I think part of this growing sentimentality has to do with the fact that we (lovingly) hand-wash our clothes...in the bathtub. (Hey, it saves 15 pesos a week!) Each week, as I (lovingly) scrub my tender belongings, I realize how much these clothes go through--getting dirty, then wet, then clean, then dry, then back to dirty again...They go through so much for me! And through these washing/bonding/reflective sessions, I come to appreciate all of my things. I think about where they came from, and I daydream about where they will go. Dear Lord, I have come to personify my damn garments, haven't I??

As silly as it may seem, I can't deny it. Maybe I am taking it all a little too far...Maybe perhaps I should stop sewing the remaining fabric from a massively-ripped skirt into a purse...(But, come on, that skirt was bought by Lauren C in Israel when she was studying abroad and having God-knows-what life-altering adventures...And then it was passed to her sister Ally, who passed it to my sister Colleen, who passed it onto me! How can I throw out all of those memories?? No, I can't. I am quite confident now after that stream-of-consciousness that the skirt must become a purse, after all. Okay, I have resolved to keep on stitching!) Oh my goodness, I can see myself in ten years, going to interviews, with colorful peace-sign patterned patches on the elbows of my suit jackets...Perhaps I will become the cat-lady my family so feared I would...

But, nonetheless, cat-lady or not, I love each one of my (& Nick's!) possessions dearly...Strangely, they have become quite unexpected little companions on the road, reminding us of the people and situations back home that gave us such treasures. Like, the red blazer with very large heart-shaped buttons that I am wearing right now (along with the amazing Billabong sweatpants left-over from 8th grade) that my mom gave me for my birthday last year...The so-called "Gidget Jacket"...Oh, I love it so...

2 comments:

Marina K. Villatoro said...

I know how it is to know every single item of your bag. I was robbed OF EVERYTHING while traveling in Guatemala. It was my backpack and day pack and fanny pack. I was left with literally nothing. and when my mom came to my rescue and brought me new stuff, I actually realized how little I needed to be happy! Simplification. I think we all need to go thru it, to understand it.

Anquises said...

Cuando me preguntan cuáles son mis mejores amigos, suelo responder:
"Mis libros y mis viejos zapatos".

Muy grato su blog, N&S.