Well, as promised, I’m writing about this, even though I’m plagued by the fear that it’ll be dead boring. I mean, does anyone really want to hear about how much I’m struggling to let go of my possessions? There’s no way in hell I’d read it if it were on someone else’s blog. But then I’m horribly self-absorbed, and pretty much everyone takes a greater interest in other people than I do. In fact, I’m reliably informed that some people even go as far as to be genuinely interested in the blatherings of others, especially if they’re blaterhing in a revealing way about their struggles.
I’m trying – frustratingly unsuccessfully thus far – to get rid of all my belongings. I have a storage unit full of stuff; family stuff, dead parent’s stuff, ex-partner’s stuff, important stuff, sentimental stuff, old stuff and outright junk. I’ve had it since 1999. It has cost me $18,000 to store since that time, and for the last decade it has felt like a millstone around my neck.
Should you be interested – which, if you are, baffles me completely… but hey, it’s your life – more back story is chronicled in The Great Shit Ditching Experiment Day 1 (factually), and Surf Board for Sale – Once Ridden by a Man with 99.9% Kelly Slater DNA (humourously).
Three days ago, I went to the storage and pulled out a bunch of shit with the aim of culling and disposing of it. Here’s the first item of note:
It’s the family silver! From like, fucking 1870 or something. Each piece has got our family’s name engraved on the back for fuck’s sake. Fuck again I say just for the sake of it. What do I do with this now? Take it to the dump? Melt it down? Sell it? Who’d buy silverware with someone else’s name on it? And if they did; why? So now I have an old wooden box full of old cutlery which, despite my giving zero fucks about, I can’t get rid of and which will one day, in all likelihood, be a burden also to my children. Really, who needs this crap? I eat nightly using a 99 cent chrome plated fork made in China. I never look at it twice. Sometimes I use plastic chopsticks. I simply can’t imagine a time when I’ll say something like…”Hang on a second darling, this is a special occasion – I think it’s time to break out the good silver!” Who says that nowadays? Ever? And if they do; why?
I’m pretty sure Dad never cared about this stuff either. Ironically, I believe he only kept it because he felt obligated to hand it down to me! I remember one day, in our family home in the early 80’s, I pulled a bunch of the knives and forks out of the box to use in the kitchen, because I was sick of there being no clean cutlery in the drawer. Dad was fine with this. In fact, we used to run these nightly through the dishwasher! Did it for years. I only put them back in the box after he died, when we were packing up the family home for sale. I can still tell which ones they were, because they’re less tarnished than the rest. I guess 10+ years of dishwashing powder will do that to silver…
Annoyance and frustration were my first reactions on opening the box, because I knew immediately that it was yet another thing that I wasn’t going to be able get rid of. But then, reading back over this, I was struck by the whiny quality of my voice, and gradually, over the next few days, it dawned on me just how much of a first world problem this really is. Then I started to wonder why I don’t feel any gratitude, or even pride in this stuff. It occurred to me that there are literally billions of people out there who would be extremely happy to have the ‘problem’ that I have; who wouldn’t be effectively saying: “Oh man…. This is soooo Laaaame! I’m like totally stuck with this mega boring heirloom. It’s so old and expensive and like… totally hand engraved and like pure silver and shit, so I can’t throw it out – I’m like totally gonna be stuck with it for the rest of my life…”
So I started looking at the stuff more closely.
I polished up a couple of pieces. It would be at least 40 years since it’s been polished, probably a lot longer.
Looking at the maker’s marks on the back I discover that this set was made in 1881. They’re also sterling silver; antique sterling silver; meaning each piece was made by hand, and all the engraving on the top is done by hand. They are tasteful, delicate, and absolutely beautiful.
And then I think about the dishwasher again, and yes, we did use some of the cutlery from the box as day-to-day cutlery, and put it through the dishwasher, but now that I remember it, Dad was very careful to make sure I had selected the silver plated stuff, not the sterling silver stuff. So the conclusion that I drew as a teenager and have held till this day, being that he didn’t give a shit about it, was clearly wrong. The other thing is of course, that we were using it! The monogrammed family silver was right there in front of us; on the table; being used every single day; by the family. Isn’t that more meaningful than having it stuck in a cupboard way up high in the kitchen, never being used or seen? I believe there was method to the man’s seeming madness.
I found this too – a little baby’s silver spoon bearing my initials: