Insight comes to you unwelcome sometimes – times when all you want to do is push it aside so that you may carry on doing whatever it was you were trying to do. As I sat in my room today, surrounded by piles of objects that I know it will take me forever to sort through, I realized why I always find this seemingly-straightforward process so time consuming. It came to me as I picked up some of my old softball gear. My glove, a sliding pad, my batting gloves: relics of a life I no longer live. It’s been seven years now since my last game, and still these things sit on a shelf in my room. The pad went straight into a bag with all the other things I plan on donating; I’m not sure I ever used it anyway. My glove I set aside for games of catch with my cousins, or perhaps with children of my own someday. But then I picked up my batting gloves, paused for a minute, and set them down again.
I should donate them; I don’t foresee myself needing them anytime soon – or ever again, really. But my breath caught with that realization. I played softball for six years, and while I never played it well, it was something I loved. I still miss the solid thwack of a good catch, the ring of bat on ball. How could I have given it up so easily? And now, as I sat here questioning my abandonment of the sport, could I just toss my gloves aside?
My room is cluttered and full of stuff I no longer need or use. But every time I attempt to sort through it and get rid of things, I inevitably run back to my donate pile and put half of it back. I don’t need my batting gloves any more, or the plastic bracelets I wore as a child, or the blue sandals I’ve owned since middle school (though all of these still fit). I don’t need the many figurines I’ve collected over the years, of cats and wolves and deer and dolphins. And I certainly don’t need the dried maple leaves I collected during my last autumn at Miami – not even the one that says, in my handwriting, I am thankful for the wonderful friends and boyfriend who have made this such an awesome semester, or the one bearing a similar message in his.
But these are in some cases all I have left of times when I was happy, of memories that lie buried until I stumble across these triggers. Getting rid of them is like severing my connection to those days, to those people. And so I hesitate. I dig figurines out of boxes and put books back on my shelves, the same way I hang onto phone numbers, Facebook friends, and Skype contacts – even though I flinch at the pain every time the names come up. I watch my parents’ favorite show on AMC with them, even though it means sitting through Mad Men previews that inevitably make me feel as though I’ve been punched in the gut.
I know I need to let go of some of these things; I need to give myself room to sleep, to work. To live.
But I don’t know how.