So a few weeks ago, over some cheap tequila-based margaritas, which I SWEAR I am not going to ever order again based on the fog that entrenches my head the following day, I was telling my friend Dacia about my divestment strategy.
I’d already given away and/or sold piles and piles of clothes, books, kitchen appliances and, sigh, yes, Vegetarian Times. But I had found a cache of letters, notes and photos from ex-boyfriends – those who had done me really, really wrong, those who done me kinda wrong and those who did me a little wrong. But wrong. Wrong enough for the whole, you know, “ex” in front of their title.
I really didn’t need to be keeping this stuff, but it was hard to part with it. I looked at my little paper stash and was reminded of the love in my life, the times when these men were thoughtful and expressed their love. Before the yelling, the slammed doors, the hole punched in the wall, the squealed tires … before I demanded they get their stuff and get out of my life. Before I knew all that would happen.
Who wouldn’t want to hang on to those good memories, when life was seen though rose-colored glasses? Well, sometimes that view is surprisingly similar to the view after some cheap tequila. It hurts. It hurts because, while those things reminded me that, yes, there was love there, it also made clear that I was ignoring red flags with the simple hope of happiness with a partner. It was time to part with this stuff, and Dacia agreed.
“You need to just burn it,” she said.
And what better way that in a ceremony at the beach? Beach bonfire, baby! Oh, yes! So she found a bunch of pallets to burn, and I got busy compiling all flammable items I didn’t need.
Besides those letters and photos, I also had things that made me happy, too. I kept three files labeled, “Nice Things People Say.” Yes, when you send me an email or letter and compliment me, there’s a little fuzzy warmth that builds in the back of my head, my cheeks flush with joy and I tuck your nicety away in a folder. If it’s via email and it was during my last few jobs, I evidently printed it out and added it to a folder – which then sat in a box in the back of my closet. Although those things made me feel good to re-read, I didn’t need them anymore.
Here is a list of everything I burned in the bonfire on the beach last weekend:
- A broken peacock feather (I live in Rio, home of wild peacocks, so I have lots of feathers. But the broken one was sad.)
- Dried lavender from my garden that I’ve hung in a doorway of my kitchen for years. I think I was going to make satchels with it.
- Three bouquets of dried roses from various gentlemen. One was white, from a recent Valentine’s Day. One was especially thorny, much like that relationship.
- Two dried leis of frangipani flowers created by my dear friend Sunita. Love you Sunita!
- Last Sunday’s New York Times
- Empty boxes that once contained a French press, kitty litter and a lava lamp
- Worn and gray Tibetan flags, which were replaced recently with brightly colored ones that hang in my carport
- Notes, letters and photos from past love
- The Nice Things People Say folders
- Pictures of my old house
- An awesome, oversized thank you card “From My Neighbors” after we passed the Children’s Services Council referendum. I took a picture of that!
- My 2014 vision board. What a great year that was – it was everything I envisioned.
- A few paintings I did on brown paper bags and of scenes that reminded me of trying times
- A ton of old incense – where did I get all of it? It smelled old and faded.
- Some papers hung on my refrigerator, which was getting a little overrun
- Words that I had taped to my mirror in my bathroom that read, “Think long term, big picture: You are beautiful just the way you are!”
- A bundle of dried sage, a braid of sweet grass and a stick of palo santo wood
Man, it felt so good to get rid of all that, and in such a beautiful way, too. My friends helped start the fire by wadding up the papers to use as kindling, and everything was quickly up in flames. Our little fire pit was perfect, and so was the wind, which was present but gentle. Watching the smoke waft toward the sunset as the golden hour brought a warm haze over the beach and almost felt a little like looking through rosy glasses.
We sat around the fire until it became glowing embers (and wished we brought a couple potatoes to cook for dinner), as the waxing moon and Jupiter shone down over the waters. Then we covered the ashes with sand, gathered our blankets and left – like it never happened.
When I woke the next morning, I was anything but foggy. It was a brand new day, and I had the space to invite all the love, beauty and friendship of it in.