The other week, after a particularly hard day teaching about the Industrial Revolution, I lay on my bed watching the moths flitting around on the ceiling. There were 15 in total. That’s quite a lot of moths. Hold on, that’s a hell of a lot of moths. Oh god, I have moths! Hauling myself off the bed I leapt towards the wardrobe and frantically started pulling all of the clothes out. More moths and fur, lots of fur.
At the back of my wardrobe was my mother’s silver fox fur. I’d kept it because it smelt of her, not because I wanted to wear it. Sometimes, when I felt particularly nostalgic I would hold it and sniff it’s musty smells of Givenchy No5 and mum. Now it was in tatters, filled with moths, hanging, like road kill, in my wardrobe. I threw it on the floor and quickly followed it, weeping inconsolably. It just proved that I couldn’t look after my mum’s stuff.
She was an only child and I am too and one of the things we are really bad at is sharing. Mum had some really nice stuff. I remember looking at all of it as a kid and thinking “Wow, she’s kind of glamorous.” She didn’t really let me touch her things. She always said I would break them or damage them. So, when she died, after I’d recovered from the initial shock, I was fairly excited to finally get my hands on her sewing machine and fox fur.
The sewing machine was the first thing that broke. I tried to use it and it actually burst in to flames. I’m not trying to make a comment on the afterlife here, but you have to admit it’s ironic that the machine I wasn’t allowed to use for textiles homework caught fire the first time I tried to use it. And now the fox fur was decimated. I felt the full weight of failure on my shoulders. I Googled moth infestations. A useful mumsy website suggested that freezing would kill any larvae, so I promptly stuffed what was left in to a rubbish sack and rammed it into my freezer compartment. It made me feel a little better.
The thing is the fur is still damaged. The sewing machine is still scorched. Despite my best laid plans and reverence towards them, those items are ruined. It made me wonder about the clutter that we collect. The mementos, the trinkets, the things that we hold dear, that chunk of Berlin Wall or shell from that first date on the beach. Where will they end up? In a charity shop, in a moth infested wardrobe, maybe placed on display as something we owned, holding someone that we love back because we once treasured that item and they treasured us?
Just like these objects, we hold on to emotional baggage that holds us back. That moment when you freak out because your new boyfriend wanders off at a gig because when you’re old boyfriend did that you knew there would be a whole heap of trouble. Or not wearing yellow because someone once told you that it made you look washed out. Not doing that thing that you always wanted to because you failed the first time or got turned down or didn’t feel so confident the last time you tried.
I think I might just put the remains of the fox fur in the bin, it’s in a bin bag already. And so today’s moral; don’t let your fears or past experiences hold you back. Do what makes you feel right, not what you think will please or appease others.