This is Cassandra. She sent me these photos and a note in Facebook IM, and it triggered joy and some sentimental pangs about moments in my past.
I immediately recognized the tiara, it was mine. As was the veil. For almost twenty years, I’ve hung onto them along with my wedding dress. My fabulous Holly Harp dress sold for $38 this summer at Rebel Supply Co. in Asbury Park, NJ. I’ve unloaded a lot fo stuff the past few years, the major dump in 2017 when I moved to CO, and then the epic latest purge this past spring when I was preparing to take off in the Mystery Machine.
Despite the wrong turns my marriage took, I carried my wedding dress which was professionally packed in an archival box with my veil, pictured here and my tiara wrapped in tissue in its original box from Kleinfeld’s in Brooklyn. My tiara has gone everywhere with me, stashed in nightstands by my various beds over the past twenty years. I’ve taken it out, held it, and lovingly put it back in its box. Where would I wear it? What else would I be doing with it. I assigned a preciousness to it. Like if I didn’t have it anymore, I never got married?
Last month, I went to MASS MoCa with some pals, and got to see “NOW I LET YOU GO,” the new installation by Annie Lenox. Entering the installation, we encounter a large mound with various items the infamous 80s music artist has cherished over her lifestyle. From music cables to every pair of her daughter’s shoes to props from music videos, the artist deliberately arranged these objects around large piles of dirt.
As I inhaled the fumes of the palpable emotion the different items meant to Lenox, I thought of the many precious things I parted with before I got the van. One of those things that I went back to was my tiara and wedding dress. Why did I carry these things around with me for almost twenty years?
The exhibit echoed feelings and emotions about unloading things that have assigned meaning to me, that could have new meaning for someone else. Sentimentality may seem frivolous, but it’s human. We seek meaning in memories because they define what we’ve been through and many times objects like this highlight a good memory popping up among the challenging ones.
What meant something to me before, means something more to Cassandra today.
This note from the newly married bride lit me up, and made me think of the many other things I’ve passed on to other people. Is it just stuff?
As I travel and wander in and out of shops, we love consuming stuff. I’m guilty, buying magnets to remember different stops, buying books to dive into delicious literature, buying shirts or scarves. It’s a bit of an addiction, isn’t it? Our love of making memories with objects, and getting new objects to solidify locking in a place I’ve visited. Do these objects hold energy of our experiences? I think they do, but I also see that they are just things if we decide they are.
Purging all those memories in the form of precious items wasn’t easy. I’ve dropped off more things along the way, donating items to charitable organizations, selling off a few more things in consignment shops and handing off items to strangers has been quite liberating. Sometimes I think of those things, and feel a bit of loss. That’s where my awareness of attachment arises.
Getting this note from Cassandra made me happy. It made me think about the positive karma of letting go. By offering these things to others, they get to make new memories and have markers to cherish their most celebrated moments.