Sentimentality is certainly a strange and invasive beast. It attacks your functionality, you don’t even see coming for you until you’re caught up in the woes of something random and totally unexpected. I’m not an overly sentimental person – I have enough trouble keeping my house sufficiently decluttered to hang onto large chunks of the past that take up space in my home and my heart. I have trouble with sentiment – it comes from places that are very warm and very happy, but for some reason, they hurt like hell.
Avoiding any and all things and situations that had the potential to stir up any sort of emotion became impossible after the birth of our second child (I held out pretty hardcore after the first one though), so in the process of trying to incorporate normal emotions into my life experience, sentiment has become a bit of a double edged sword. Yes, I enjoy genuinely experiencing my life with the entirety of myself but the emotions are super intense, and insanely random.
The first time I really noticed an overwhelming wave of sentimentality was about a year ago. I had done some very thorough spring cleaning and was in the process of finally actually getting rid of all of the random crap that had piled up between baby #1 and baby #2. On another note real quick – it amazes me how quickly and arbitrarily baby equipment goes from being perfectly safe and great to use to being an APA certified death trap. There were only 3 years between the kids, but somehow all of our stuff that we could have potentially used for the second child “expired” or something idiotic happened to someone somewhere for doing something stupid with said product causing a wave of litigation, warning labels and recalls… heh, nothing lasts forever, and that’s a guarantee! But anyhow, back to spring cleaning – the point was I had a lot of large baby equipment that I was throwing away due to the fact that it couldn’t be reused or donated.
Finally, I rounded up all of the random obtrusive useless pieces of crap that had been cluttering up our house for months… or even years. I was fine. I put everything in a trash can and put it out next to the curb for trash pickup the next morning. I was still fine.
The next morning I happened to be standing in the living room, looking out at the still full trashcan sitting on the curb – the trash hadn’t been collected yet, despite the fact that it was almost noon. I saw the tip of my daughter’s turtle baby bathtub – something that she hadn’t been able to even fit in for at least two years, and we had stopped using it when she was only 8 months old. At that point, she was almost 4 – needless to say, the baby bathtub needed to go.
As I noticed that I could see the turtle sticking up out of the trashcan, the garbage collection truck started rolling down the street. I watched the men pick up the trashcan, dump the baby bathtub into the giant container of rubbish with everyone’s leftover dinners, baby diapers, and every disgusting thing that we toss on a daily basis and I started to panic. I suddenly felt like I was throwing away a part of my daughter’s past, and all of the memories of the early bath times when we discovered that she was indeed a water baby.I started sobbing uncontrollably, it took me a good half hour to get a hold of myself. After that I was absolutely fine, I still cannot really explain what that was other than a weird wave of unsolicited sentimentality that hit me like a freight train. I know you usually see and hear those coming, but apparently I was not paying attention.
The only other time I felt a sudden panic over getting rid of something was the other day when we got a new bed. Our bed was the first thing that my husband and I bought together (and we actually bought it about a year and some before he became my husband, so 13 years later it has some history. And as with everything that has history, some of it is weird and wonderful, some of it is random and maybe kind of gross, and some of it is really sad and painful – but it almost tells our story.
Like I said, it was the first big thing that we bought as a couple. It was the only thing that fit in our bedroom when we got it home into our tiny apartment in Tampa, FL. When we moved to Maryland, once again, it was pretty much the only thing that fit in our bedroom – which had, due to a clerical error (I’m assuming), been painted red instead of wheat (“salsa” instead of “sissal” – I can see how it happened, but damn it messed us up).
The year in the red bedroom was not a good year – I do not recommend putting the color of fire and anger on the walls in the room where you sleep. I cannot stress that enough.
The next year when we were no longer living in the apartment with the red bedroom, my husband fell asleep with a chocolate ice-cream bar (don’t ask how… he just did) and the stain that it left became a topic of conversation for years every single time we changed the sheets. It was the first piece of furniture we brought into our new house when we bought it in the winter of 2011. We conceived our first child in that bed. I fell into a deep depression after that child was born and lived in that bed for almost an entire year. Our second baby was conceived in that bed. Ironically, making the bed every day was one of the only things that I was capable of doing by the end of that second pregnancy, and doing so kept me as sane as was possible. I really had absolutely no idea how accurately a mattress could make my life flash before my eyes, but once again, I started to panic as it was being hauled out of our bedroom.
Apparently I’m not quite over it, because writing this is starting to make my eyes tear up, and once again – I am not quite sure why. A significant portion of those memories take me to places that honestly I’d like to try to avoid, and because the memories are somewhat traumatic and scarring, they will be vivid and detailed and freaking eternal (my memory has a mind of its own, I swear… how scary is that possibility?) – I won’t lose them. The bed hasn’t been genuinely comfortable for a very long time now, it actually has been responsible for more pain than comfort for at least a year. It was time to move on, and we got a new bed that is amazing – like, leaps and bounds beyond where we were before, it is SO MUCH BETTER. But damn… weird sentiment hurts. I guess even when you’re ready to move on, life lingers a bit longer than you’d like.
I guess even when you’re ready to move on, life lingers a bit longer than you’d like.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed that the shades of my past that hang around now are often pieces of it that seemed so insignificant at the time. The fact that they haunt me now is unsettling, perhaps I’m supposed to pay more attention to the little precious moments in my life. Perhaps I’m supposed to breathe a bit more often and be a little bit more patient, then I’ll have more of the moments that suddenly seem desperately few and far between when their effigies are no longer present. Maybe I’m supposed to allow myself to feel the emotions that I tend to push back when I’m supposed to experience them, so I don’t dwell on how emotionally dishonest I feel like I’m being to myself later. Or maybe it doesn’t mean a damn thing, and people are just sentimental – admitting to myself that I am among that population is not something I do easily. But, alas, here I am.
Breathe it in, girl, you are human and that is okay. Or so they say. I’m still not sure. I could do without the random incessant bursts of crippling emotional agony. But there is something to be said for pain – it makes you feel alive.