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The things that remain

What’s the one thing you can’t let go of, even though you know you should? That one thing that you’ve had forever, that you don’t use, but somehow you can never sell/donate/toss?

I have three of those things.

My sari: Five years ago, after I graduated high school, I deferred college for a semester and traveled to India to stay with my then-boyfriend’s parents for a few months (just me; he was in college at the time). I had a wonderful time, celebrating festivals with their Kolkata neighborhood, learning Bengali, meeting my boyfriend’s huge family and his old friends, and learning to meditate. It’s where I first started to understand the joy of simplicity. I purchased a few tunics and wore them with two pairs of leggings, leaving my giant suitcase of American clothes almost completely untouched, washing my clothes by hand in the shower and drying them in the windows. I watched the street kids, who owned nothing, play atop mounds of garbage with stray dogs, a certain ineffable serenity and joy in their faces. I spent three days in an ashram doing nothing but eating, breathing, and sleeping. It was transformational, to the point of a cliché.

And it also left me the proud owner of nine saris. In my defense, I only purchased two of them myself; the rest were gifts from my Auntie or from their family members. Most of them remain at my parents’ house, and I could probably let most of them go, but I’ve carried one around everywhere—to college, to Kansas—for the last five years. It’s beautiful, green and orange and gold silk in a pattern unique to the region. It was a (rather expensive) gift from my Auntie and Uncle. And I just love it. I keep meaning to mount it in a shadowbox or something, because it actually matches our décor reasonably well and would then have a purpose…but I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of it. Not this one.

My badminton racquet: Throughout high school, I captained the badminton team. I just loved it. That was back when my only pocket money came from babysitting, and so buy anything “big-ticket” (like, more expensive than a movie ticket) weighed heavily on me. When I decided it was time to buy a good badminton racquet, I put in weeks of research, looking online and visiting stores until I found the perfect racquet for my purposes. It was $85—it’s been eight years, but I still remember how large that sum was—but it was just right, and I saved up my money to purchase it, a couple of birdies, and some blue camo-patterned tape to wrap the handle.

It went to college with me, where I was disappointed to discover that there were no badminton nets or anything in the gym, and has come to Kansas, where I have discovered one badminton club…but it’s a quite expensive membership. I haven’t played since high school, and it probably wouldn’t kill me to never play again…but I retain hope. I so want to play again. And if we move to Seattle—a distinct possibility—I would definitely join the club I used to play at with one of my best friends, who still plays there.

My Sibelius CD: Wow. Any musical peeps in the house? Do you remember Sibelius, the amazing software that allowed you to compose music? I remember it was super expensive, and a bunch of my friends got together and bought it for me for my 15th or 16th birthday. I used it for school, composed a couple of things…and then just sort of stopped. I still compose for myself on my keyboard (sadly, the grand piano remains with my parents), but I never write it down. It’s not really for anyone else. Frankly, I don’t even know why I keep it around. The initial investment? The love behind the gift? A reminder of how important music was to me as a high-schooler? I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll be able to let it go in my next purge.

So what’s your dirty minimalist secret? What can’t you let go of, and why?

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