Letting Go of the Things We Love
Gun to head, I’d have told you I was a leg man over a boobs guy and meant it. So much so, that in my early-twenties, after talking about it for years, I finally stole a mannequin leg from a mall department store. Okay, I didn’t steal it, my friend, Chris Gallant stole it. We were walking out of Dillards (maybe it was Robinsons-May), and I was saying, again, how badly I wanted to steal one of those legs. Chris, tired of the same old talk and no action, grabbed a leg decked out in DKNY thigh-high pantyhose just before exiting through the automatic doors. We barely picked up our pace as we headed to the car.
“Here’s your fucking leg,” he said.
I didn’t want the leg for any kind of perverted reasons. I never humped the leg or even thought of humping the leg. I never even thought of it as having a gender at all. And I had no intention of turning it into a lamp, a la A Christmas Story, as many suggested I do. I just wanted the leg. I thought it was funny. Having a random leg wearing a DKNY thigh-high in my house made me laugh. It was even funnier to me that everyone else was either weirded out by it or thought I was a sicko.
I didn’t care. I loved that leg.
That leg moved with me from Las Vegas to Chicago. For a good while, it sat near the coat rack in a corner of the apartment I share with my now wife. She hated it, didn’t understand it. That made me love it even more. It added to whatever mysterious cool I liked to think I have.
When Chris got married last summer, I planned to bring the leg to Boston and present it to him and his bride, Amy, as a heartfelt gift. My wife, Katie, advised me against it. Not because it was a pain in the ass to pack, but because it was a terrible idea. And that, of course, made me want to bring the leg to Boston even more. But I didn’t. I forgot. Between my bag, Katie’s bag, the kid and his bag, car seat, stroller, and Pack ‘n Play, I forgot it in Chicago.
It’s a missed opportunity I’ll likely never get over.
Katie has asked me to get rid of it countless times. She’s pleaded with me to throw it away a baker’s dozen number of times. I refused. But I would move it into a new spot, hoping that would buy me more time with the leg before Katie finally chucked it on her own while I was out of town. I moved it from the coat rack to the kid’s room; to the kitchen; into Katie’s shower. It always made me laugh.
And I should say that DKNY makes a helluva thigh-high stocking. That thing’s been carried around across the country and lived through several homes since George W. Bush’s first administration and there is not a single run in it.
But as we’ve accumulated more stuff in the last year because of our kid, our place began to feel overwhelming. All that stuff. A bassinet that’s not getting used anymore, a car seat he’s grown out of, a jumper and a swing he’s too big for. We can’t throw this stuff out. We can’t give it away or sell it either. Chances are, we’ll have another kid — if the Dark Lord blesses us with such a joy — and we’ll need all that crap again. So, in an effort to make room for the old stuff the kid no longer needs and the new stuff the kid does need, we’ve been purging hard. Like, body dysmorphic bulimic bride-to-be hard.
I had no problem chucking a good armful of DVDs including Boondock Saints because that is a shit, shit, shit movie. The leg… Getting rid of the leg was hard.
I sent photos of it to Chris, hoping he would join me in affection for it. His response: “Dude…. That still exists?”
Of course it does! It’s my leg! The leg I always wanted! The leg he stole for me because I was too much of a wuss to take what I wanted.
But today, I pulled the trigger. I threw the leg away. All things come into our lives and leave our lives when they should. The leg served me well. It brought me joy. And I know that spits in the face of the KonMari method, but chucking it brought my wife joy, which brings me joy. So here we are. One joyful family.
Plus, now that I have a kid, and Chris has one on the way, maybe, in a few years, we’ll send our kids in to a mall department store to lift a new leg for us — um, me. That’ll be a new adventure we can have together. A tradition of friendship and robbery. That is, of course, if department stores still exist when our kids are old enough to successfully commit misdemeanors.
Letting go of the things we love is never easy. But, it does open up space to be filled with new things worth loving.