Monday, October 1, 2012

Try talking to your stuff

Talk to your stuff.

Recently I was charmed by an Ali Edwards blog post that was a letter to Fall.   It stuck with me, so when I had to get a new car (Big-Green-Car-Car, seven years old and three kids later had been showing signs of wear and tear)  I sent the following combination out to my family.

Dear Minivan,
Please keep us safe and take us on lots of fun adventures.  You have big wheels to fill so don't disappoint us, in return I promise not to name a sexy girl like you "Big Marshmallow" as Gwendolyn has suggested.
Love, Mama

Something about writing the note to my new van felt so genuine and accessible, that the concept popped up again for me quickly.

Momma Zen had posted this:

“We hold on because we cherish.  Until the day we cherish by not holding on.”

right when I was struggling to throw out two raggedy keepsakes--a sweatshirt I bought when I was twenty-two and a nightgown.  So, in the spirit of learning from a teacher, I asked for instruction.  And here is what she sent:

“Fabric?  That is the easy letting go.  Practice with the sweatshirt, hon, until the day.”

And so, I tried “practicing with the sweatshirt ” in the form of the Dear Fall prompt by Ali.

Dear Red Sweatshirt,
I bought you to keep me warm in the first office I ever worked in.  I was temping at Dean Witter Managed Futures.  I had to wear panty hose and my boss was a red-headed woman who everyone called "Z" and teased because her husband was an artist.  The office was on the 77th floor of the World Trade Center, and I bought you from the Gap in the basement mall between the towers.  I took you with me when I moved to California.  When the towers collapsed on September 11th, I wondered if there was a temp, just like me, there for only a few days, but the worst few days possible.  The fear of the thought kept me up at night for a few weeks.  I’ve kept you as a way of saying, “ I was there, that happened to a part of me.”  I’ve kept you to remind me that we don’t know how much time we have, so we need to make the best of each day.  And I’ve kept you to cherish feeling safe.  Because these days, I do.  Feel safe and loved and happy.
Love, Cristina

Dear Nursing Nightgown,
You came with me to the hospital for the birth of each of my girls.  You were possibly the only thing that made sense to me about Gwendolyn’s birth.  I felt so scared when they wheeled me into surgery for the c-section.  But there you were, with gaps in just the right places.  You made learning how to nurse the baby easier.  By the time you and I went back to the hospital for the third girl, I knew what I was doing.  We lounged in the hospital bed, drinking in the sweet comfort of a brand new baby in arms.  It took me exactly three times and a dose of good luck to be able relax with my newborn baby.  I wish I could have felt that way with all three, but I’m glad I got the practice so that I could have it with even one.  I’ve held onto you as a way to remember the very first few days of each of my daughters’ lives.  When I see you I remember pink tender skin, feet as long as my thumb, and the smell of baby heads that reminds me of parsnips.  I remember how scared I was in the beginning of becoming a mother, and how the mother I am now can hear the difference between instinct kicking in and static on the line.  When I see you I am thankful for three safe deliveries, three health girls, and a full life of mothering all around me.
Love, Cristina

The brilliance of the Dear Fall prompt is that it lovingly embraces us humans, exactly where we are, attached to our stuff.  It gives us permission to be just as attached as we are, and by doing so, shines light on that tender, odd, instinctual drive we have to make meaning out of whatever we encounter.  When we let the story out, when we see how we were designed to have our hearts broken, then we understand that kindness is our only option.

My ally, Laurel has her own version of the Dear Fall prompt also. If you're inspired, I'd love to hear what you have to say to your stuff too!

1 comment:

  1. Love love love this adaptation of Ali's Dear Fall. Your notes to the sweatshirt and nightgown were so touching, and left me inspired to write something of my own to a few things I'm trying to let go of. I've been thinking about how we have to let things go in order to leave room for new things to come in. It's a healthy cycle, but can be so hard. Writing the thing a little note might be just the trick. Thanks!