“Are you sure you want to do this?”
“It’s still early. You can wait.”
“No, it’s better this way. It won’t be any easier in four months.”
Jared gave me an encouraging pat on the back and I began to push the shoe-laden cardboard box across the house, where it would rest beside the purse-laden cardboard box in my office until the date of the big garage sale. This would be our trial separation before I let them go for good, and that made saying goodbye a little easier.
Yesterday afternoon I had five shoe racks in my closet, which still wasn’t enough storage space to prevent having to line my boots up along the wall. By the end of the night, I had whittled my collection down to one hanging rack. I’ll be honest and admit that I walked around my bathroom in a few pairs before I packed them away. I turned several over in my hands repeatedly, remembering where I’d bought them and worn them and how special they’d made me feel.
And they did. It’s trite and silly and foolish, but having a perfect pair of red heels to ironically pair with jeans and a black t-shirt made me feel bold and strong. Beautiful. Having an impressive shoe collection has always been a distinguishable part of who I am.
Who I was.
Now I’m a girl who wants to be free of the burden of a closet full of shoes, purses and clothes. Now I’m a girl who wants to be able to travel lightly and far. Now I’m a girl who saves her money for doing rather than possessing and holds on only to what’s most precious.
Now I’m a girl who bought a pair of Crocs because they’re practical.
(OK, fine, I bought the sparkly ones, but still. PRACTICAL!)
I’m OK with that, I think. Or at least, I’m starting to be more OK with that. I realize that this transition period is me standing between who I want to be and who I’ve been for so long and learning that I have to let go if I’m going to get to move forward. The two realities are simply too far apart to embrace both at the same time. I can’t be someone who travels with all of her worldly possessions in an RV and be a woman who owns slingbacks in every color. I can’t enjoy the time and freedom that comes from living on one freelance income and sustain a big, beautiful house that impresses friends and family.
And it’s not just about the stuff, although that is always the most visible change to explore, but our stuff is so much a part of our identities. What we buy tells the world who we are and there’s a part of me that likes telling the world that I’m fashionable. And stable. And successful. Even if those things no longer mean success to me, I can’t pretend not to be fluent in the Language of Stuff that everyone around me speaks.
But I have to let go of what I’m used to if I’m going to make room in my life for what I really want.
I wanter to wander around the country with my husband and kids at our own pace. I want to have the freedom to say yes if someone calls and invites us to Paris for a month. I don’t know anyone in Paris, but I want the option just the same.
I want all of those things even more than I want shoes.