Spring cleaning. The annual event to go through the closets, clear the clutter, clean the house, and move into the Spring season. Out with the old, in with the new. Open the windows and let the fresh air in! A time for rebirth and renewal.
The tradition of spring cleaning is centuries old. The origins and history of when, where, and how Spring Cleaning got started varies by religion and culture, but most historians agree it evolved from a Persian custom called “khooneh takouni” which literally means “shaking the house”. (You’re welcome, now go try out for Jeopardy). That’s the best metaphor for this process. Get in there, shake the house, clean it up, and face the new season.
Clearing the Closets
A few weeks ago, my husband and I were doing just that. After a long, cold, snowy winter in Boston, we were ready for Spring. At the first hint of warm weather and sunshine, we threw open the windows and declared an all out assault on clutter and general house mayhem and pledged to live a simpler life. I spent time reading wonderful books about the process of living a simpler, clutter free life. Books like “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” (h/t Patti Digh) and the “Joy of Less” gave me the power to get in there and do some serious cleaning and purging. Clothes that were too big? Gone. Clothes that were too small? Gone. Mismatched towels, sheets, and old sneakers were bundled up and carted off to Goodwill. The process was cathartic. Freeing. We were on a roll. Tiny House living here we come!
The Great Purge and Cleanse of 2015 was on a roll. The feverish pace continued until I found one long forgotten item stuck deep in the bowels of our closet, underneath boxes and wrapped in an old pillowcase. A Victoria’s Secret black bra. Size 38 D. I delicately unfolded the bra and sat down on the corner of the bed. Why was I holding on to this? I showed my husband, “What should I do with this?” He responded like any husband should: “Whatever you want to do with it is fine with me.” I thought for a moment, “I guess I should throw it out.” When he walked out of the room, I hid the bra in my underwear drawer. I wasn’t ready.
It’s been 7 years, 4 months, and 4 days since I had a bilateral mastectomy with no reconstruction. I have no need for a bra. Never opted for fake inserts, balls of kleenex, or knitted foobs. Why have I held on to this bra?
Facebook is Watching
Over the years, I’ve thrown out all the rest of my bras but couldn’t let that last one go. Perhaps I was hoping I’d need it again. Maybe I held onto to it to remind me of life before breast cancer. Was it a reminder of what could have been? I spent many hours thinking about throwing out this simple piece of fabric. I knew it was time to let go. But every time I stood over the trash bin, I just couldn’t do it.
Last week while scrolling through the wasteland that’s become my Facebook timeline, I saw this sponsored post. For a black bra.
I know this company has no idea that I had a bilateral mastectomy but it still felt like a punch to the gut. The absurdity of it all made me realize it’s time to let go. That last bra had to go. No more holding on to the past.
Goodbye Victoria’s Secret
Last night, I pulled out that black bra for the last time. I showed it to my husband and declared I was ready to throw it out. He just smiled and nodded. To break the sadness that I felt, I did what I do best; I cracked a joke about the whole situation.
“I guess they aren’t growing back.” My husband looked at me, not sure how to react, and quietly started laughing. And I did too. A laughter that grew into a crescendo. Hearty laughter about a situation I’d never wish on anyone. A soul cleansing laugh that made me realize I’m ready to move on. And that’s what I did. Out with the old. 7 years, 4 months, and 4 days later. It feels good.
“Let go of the past, and the past will let go of you” – Unknown.