This piece talks about suicide which may trigger some. Be mindful.
I have a pink leather Kate Spade purse I rarely use. Never use. I’m going to keep it anyway.
For one thing, it sparks joy. It’s too small for my wallet, too casual for an evening bag, and too lush to toss into a backpack as a backup hold-all. It’s essentially useless. But it’s soft and pretty and it makes me smile.
Plus, Kate Spade’s dead. The designer of the useless bag that sparks joy killed herself a few years back, leaving me feeling like I should keep the bag forever. To bear witness. Or something.
Ditto the L’Wren Scott L’Absolu Rouge Lancôme lipstick in the vanity drawer. * It will dry out one day, probably before the leather bag, but I still won’t bin it. A lipstick monument. It’s in surprisingly good condition, fashion magazine warnings of dire consequences and worse bacteria if you don’t toss and replace cosmetics every six months notwithstanding. I got it in 2010, in case you’re curious.
I try to tell my daughter that pathological replacing is a new thing. People used to keep their makeup for years with very few facial amputations. It wasn’t a society of pink eye run amok.
But if people keep things until they run out or are unfit to use, sales suffer. It’s better for the bottom line if people believe they need new on a regular basis.
Perhaps I should store them together in a basket? I love a good, organizational basket. I have a plethora. This one could be: “Mementos from people who’ve killed themselves”. I’ll throw in a folio with pictures of the friends I’ve lost to suicide, intentional and accidental**. There will be a lot of pictures.
I’ve been an inpatient. When people say that, they mostly aren’t referring to orthopedic treatment. I’ve been in care, in psychiatric facilities and rehab centres. More than once and for longish stretches of time Six weeks the first time, four months on the most recent. You meet people there and mostly, you draw close. You bond quickly due to commonalities and stress. Bonding in the trenches. Shared traumas make you feel closer than siblings. But the death rate for people in treatment is high, especially when large numbers of those you’re closest to are drug addicts and eating disorder sufferers.
They were, all of them, most of them, fantastic people with much to offer.
Maybe we all start out as fantastic people with a lot to offer.
I miss them. I miss the way they understood the things I say. I miss the commonality of our language. They, too, were a little bit wrong. They found the world a little too much for various reasons and did strange and horrifying things to deal with it. We struggled with occupational therapy together – bonding over bad clay models. When I was around them, I felt free of shame in a way I don’t when I’m around most.
I always feel vaguely apologetic when I’m talking to the neurotypical, to those who could never imagine doing the things I’ve done. I’m always a little aware of my shame. A little aware of the things I’ve done.
Anyhow, I’m keeping them. In fifty years, my children can toss my memories. Maybe not the purse. It might be a big deal by then. But in my gut, it seems like the right thing to do.
And I want to. And honestly, “Because I want to” is a perfectly satisfactory justification as long as what you want doesn’t harm.
At least that’s how I spin my semi-regular consumption of cereal for dinner.
* I struggled with the punctuation and where to italicize. Makeup never came up in grammar lessons. It seems like a lot of capitals and diacritics for a lipstick.
** Many of the people I’ve lost have been drug addicts. I’m lucky. When I slip and fall off the wagon, I carve my face or eat too much and purge away reality. Horrible but not fatal. When your drug of choice is something like meth or heroin, that “one more time” when you’ve been off for a while can be fatal. Accidental overdose. Accidental suicide. Death as a consequence of pain-avoidance. Life can be harsh.
*** I was going to include a picture of the purse and the lipstick as the header but it turns out taking a picture of a purse that is not completely awful is a skill I don’t have.