Thursday, June 24, 2010
"Things Change…" Part Four: Out of the woods
Over the last couple of days, with the helpful and timely encouragement of my wife, I have gone through my clothes closet, which -- for many years now -- has been another of my "disaster area" rooms. Jumbles of shirts on hangers… piles of used and new clothes on the floor, waiting in vain for an organizing hand… hats purchased years ago with an eye toward a more "sophisticated" look, and abandoned when I realized I didn't like the way they felt on my head… lumpy heaps of TMNT t-shirt samples from various licensees… shoes worn once, perhaps twice… and so on.
I have a lot of "spring cleaning" of this sort to do in the house and in my old studio, and Jeannine wisely suggested I start here. It made sense -- it's the smallest room, and she saw that it would be quite possibly the easiest, for at least one big reason -- anything I decided to divest myself of could simply be tossed into a bag and brought to the local Goodwill Industries drop box.
So I tore into it, with somewhat ruthless -- but practical -- abandon. About half of the stuff I put into bags for Goodwill was brand new, never been worn… some of it never even out of plastic bags or off the original hangars. For example, I have over the last ten years bought many a four-pocket shirt -- guayaberas they're called, and also known as the "Mexican wedding shirt". Jeannine bought me my first one about ten years or so ago, in Portsmouth, NH. She'd seen it in a funky little clothing shop and -- knowing my fondness for pockets -- thought I might like it.
And she was right.
Little did she know that she was starting a fashion trend for me which would last up until about a month ago. Really, with the exception of a few formal occasions, I'm pretty sure that for the last decade I have worn four-pocket shirts exclusively -- light cotton ones in the summer, heavier linen or hemp ones in the winter. And they were extremely practical, as I tend to carry around a bunch of stuff with me that conveniently fit into those four pockets. They also didn't need to be tucked in, which -- given the weight I'd put on over those years -- was another plus.
But the four-pocket shirts are now fading from my life. I'm keeping a few -- they're comfortable, and I've discovered that with a few of them at least they actually look okay when tucked in. (You can't use the lower tier of two pockets, but that's okay). However, I suspect that over the next year or so those will disappear as well. They're just not me anymore.
And that's because in so many ways, I'm not me anymore. At least, not the me from before my "epiphany". Yes, I do retain much of my previous self, my long-established personality quirks, good and bad, my basic nature… but so much has changed. I am seeing life in such a fresh way. It's not entirely easy, although I see it as being very nearly entirely good -- I'm struggling with a lot of emotions that have been bottled up, throttled down, covered in dust for a long time. I've told Jeannine a few times that I feel like some kind of animal which has molted, abandoning its old, worn, dead shell for a new one, one which is raw and new and open to lots of feelings, both good and bad.
The new shell will toughen up over time, and this phase will go away. But my goal -- and I have pledged to Jeannine that I will stick to it (I mean, yesterday I literally got down on one knee, took her hands, and made this pledge) -- is that I will never let that shell get between us again.
My therapist (who I wish I had started seeing a long time ago, as he has helped me a great deal over the last two years) cautions me that these kinds of evolutions are not linear, that they can be more of a spiral path, and that I may from time to time come close to or even temporarily enter that foggy realm from which I have escaped. I believe he's right, and I will be on the lookout for those missteps. It's possible that I will make them.
But I now have great motivation to avoid them… and that, I think, will help me a lot.
So back to the clothes closet… into more than a dozen thirteen-gallon plastic drawstring bags went piles of shirts, pants, shoes, hats, and t-shirts. I even tossed in all except one of the "Signature Series" TMNT shirts that had been produced using artwork I'd done specifically for them. I did keep a few of the old glow-in-the-dark TMNT t-shirts from the early years, though I suspect they may not stay too long.
And the sense of freedom after completing this task was wonderful. I still have a long way to go -- there's a lot more stuff to go through and get rid of. But this was a great start, and I thank Jeannine once again for gently pushing me to do it. -- PL
P.S. The "Out of the Woods" title for this blog entry comes from two sources -- one, my great sense of relief that I have somehow managed to stumble "out of the woods" of depression and unhappiness; and two, for the beautiful creature in the photo I took yesterday while Jeannine and I were bicycling on our new favorite bike path. Jeannine spotted the deer, and alerted me to its presence… and the deer was nice enough to stay in one spot while I unlimbered my camera and got a couple of shots with the zoom lens.