Some Things Just Can’t Be Thrown Away

Several times a year, I purge every closet, drawer, and storage space in my house. Most of the time, my efforts are half-hearted, and I tend to hold on to things that either no longer fit my body or my design aesthetic.

Today, at the request of my husband, who was VERY RIGHTFULLY tired of my clothing mountains, I purged YEARS of clothing. Frankly, it was something I had been avoiding after I’d gained a significant amount of weight following my mid-pandemic realization that I’d spent my entire life with an eating disorder.

It started innocently enough: a complete meltdown during which I emptied every single drawer onto the floor while searching for Spanx that were MIA. I didn’t find the Spanx that day, but what I did find three weeks later was a whole bunch of clothing mountains that I still needed to deal with.

Today, while being honest with myself about my body and realistic goals for healthy weight loss, I donated bags and bags AND BAGS of clothes that no longer fit my fuller body- clothes I knew would never fit my body if it was not starving. And while that was a process that was arduous and painstaking in and of itself, it was nothing in comparison to finding the socks.

These bad boys are over 20 (yes, TWENTY) years old, and they weren’t originally mine. The original owner of these T-I-Double Guh-Er socks was my sister, Courtney, who died in 2001, after a 4 year battle with neuroblastoma.

I don’t remember how I came to have the socks, and those details don’t really matter. Once in a while, I come across these socks in a drawer, and every single time, I think, “Why are these still in here?” after I catch the breath that was knocked out of me by the memories they call forth. And every single time, I consider throwing them out, yet here we are, over 20 years later, and I’m still holding on to them.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why I still have these atrocious grippy socks that I have never worn or the dried rose that I plucked from one of her funeral arrangements that sits crumbling in an old jewelry box. These things taking up literal space in my home are just representations of the things that are taking up metaphorical space in my soul, and so I can’t throw them out even though these items are of no actual use to me. It would be like throwing away a part of myself, as ridiculous as that may seem.

This really got me thinking about all of the other things I’ve got socked away in various nooks and crannies in my house- sentimental ridiculousness that sometimes evokes tears, but mostly makes me smile: my not-at-all-preserved bridal bouquet that REALLY needs to go, that DMX CD I “borrowed” from an ex-not-quite-boyfriend some 25 years ago, every single music mix my husband ever burned to disc, my prom dresses, the entire video collection for both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, the ultrasounds from my babies who are not earthside here with us.

Maybe one day I won’t need these physical items to remember the things that hold special places in my heart, but today I’m still holding on to them because there some things can’t be thrown away.

Julie Lee
Julie is a mama, wife, teacher, writer, photographer, designer, and basket case—jack of all trades, master of none. She lives in Ascension Parish with her husband, her two hooligans, and her quarankitties, Stella and Luna. She’s an English teacher by day, and a lover of words by destiny. Her favorite word is schadenfreude. When she’s pretending she isn’t too busy to breathe, you can find her curled up in her hammock with a book.


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