Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A few things I'm glad burned up

One of the themes I considered for my book is holding onto things that no longer serve a purpose in your life. For me, the fire freed up energy in a way by burning up that which had become draining on me psychologically.

For example, I kept letters from my ex-boyfriend. (I'm fairly certain that he doesn't read this blog, but I wouldn't be surprised if his wife does.) That relationship was toxic for me. We started dating when I was 15 or 16. I thought I was madly in love. It's an unfortunate plight for a boy-crazy teenage girl, to be so easily in love and convinced that her high school relationship can withstand adult problems (like my dad being diagnosed with stage IV lymphoma). I had dozens of letters between us professing love. Honestly to read those letters as an adult is to make your heart puke. Emotions like that don't exist outside of ages ending in -teen. I was sad about the loss of these letters for a long time. It wasn't that I needed them for myself. But I thought they were great writing material. But really, when I think about it, the loss of these letters is good. I don't need my ex-boyfriend's love letters anymore than I need the angsty teenage notes written in Spanish class. Even more, I don't need my kids or grandkids reading those one day!

I've also been really sad about losing the pearls my dad gave me when he was sick with said lymphoma. I have a few of the charred pearls remaining (after convincing the insurance company that "no, you don't need these. They aren't worth anything to anyone but me.") Our relationship has always been a little strained, and the steroids he took while undergoing chemo did little to repair an already tenuous bond. He gave me those pearls as a way to thank me for giving up my summer at 18/19. I decided that they implied an apology for things I thought he ought apologize for. That was my own meaning and not what they were at all. Their charred nature is perhaps a better reflection of our relationship than the near-perfect off-white balls that existed before.

I will include one more object, though this list is not exhaustive. When I was 13, my mom painted a box with pansies on it. She shared this love of pansies with her grandmother, to whom she lived next door growing up. She wanted to share it with me. When I was 16, I got really, really mad at her. Really mad. And I gave her the box back. I didn't mean it. But I knew it would hurt her. It did. When I asked for it back, she wouldn't give it to me. It was an incredible lesson in doing things in anger and recognizing the consequences. You can't just take back your actions. I eventually did get the box back, and it held jewelry and other tokens of my life throughout various stages. I'm not glad I lost the box per say, but it also was an object that held both positive and negative memories, and its loss did not diminish the experience. Maybe that box in particular is an example of how I don't always need the "stuff" to carry on the lesson. For what it's worth, my mom just finished another box, although bigger, and it now sits next to my bed as a reminder just the same.


  1. I can not think of a single thing I am glad to have had burn up. There are things I lost that I should not have kept for various reasons but I can't go back now and say I'm happy they burned up. Maybe one day I'll get there.

  2. I'm still not happy that there was a fire. And if I could have them and not have gone through a fire, I obviously would prefer that outcome. But I guess I'm not sorry that they are gone.