Last night was better. I woke at 00:30 and 01:30, restless, but F slept through aside from some mumbling and yawning at around 05:30.
I cleared out more stuff in the cupboard today. Most of the things I don’t use that I find hard to part with are sentimental. I had this old scrabble set in there. It used to belong to my parents and I’ve carted it around for decades. The box long ago disintegrated so I kept it in another box, along with the original box lid (missing the sides), because that had the official instructions printed on the back. The tiles were all in an ancient co-op plastic bag. There were four wooden tile stands.
We never play scrabble. But I always pass over this boxed up ancient game when I clear things out.
Today I took it down from the shelf and thought to myself,
I’ll put it in the loft.
However, once I was done with the shelves I was sorting out, and I’d cleared all the other things away, I hesitated. Why was I putting it in the loft? Was I ever likely to play it? What was the real reason I was keeping it?
I searched inside myself and looked for the honest answer. I was keeping it because I was sentimentally attached to it.
I opened out the box and knew deep down that there was no reason for me to keep it any longer. I lifted the ancient box lid out, with its coffee-coloured and stained inside that must have once been white, and I held it up to my face. It smelled like home.
That’s why I was keeping it.
The home that fell apart when I was in my early teens. It came from before then. From the days of security and fun and wonder and childhood. The delicate, dusty scent contained fragments from my old bedroom – long forgotten moisturisers and the dry rustle of childhood books. It reminded me of both my Mum and my Dad, and of our house where I grew up, sold when I was 16 as my parents divorced.
I sat there and cried and cried over a fucking 63 year old scrabble set (the date on the inside of the box was 1955). And I knew that what I felt was a longing for that feeling of home, of old things of my Dad’s and the distracted busy-ness of my Mum. And I also felt a great sorrow inside that my parents were not more affectionate towards me when I was a child. I found my comfort in the physical home I lived in, not the flesh of the people that brought me into the world. I knew the walls, the cupboards, every corner, intimately. It was my sanctuary. My parents loved me dearly, I do understand that now. But they were not good at showing it. They were distracted with their own problems, their own difficult lives, difficult upbringings.
As a child, when I was sad, I sobbed on my bed, not in their arms. When I played, I sat alone on the floor, not on their laps. When I was happy I smiled and watched the world outside my window, I didn’t share it with them. I was dismissed, too often. So my love of that scrabble set is a tender affection for the home I grew up in. It was a part of it that I brought with me when I left.
Buddha says that attachment will only bring dukkha (suffering), and suffering was exactly what I felt every time I looked at that old game. Emotional suffering.
I did the quirky Marie Kondo thing of thanking it for being a part of my life, and then I let it go.
And I knew I had done the right thing, because as long as we hang onto the past, we can never be fully present in the gift of life that we have today.