Re-purposing

Maybe it's because I grew up with really frugal parents, stories from their childhoods of want, of needs unmet, of shame. I was often reminded of what we had that others including our parents, in thdid have. It wasn't that I didn't like nice things. I grew up with a keen sense of what we didn't have.  I just understood that the newest style and the expensive clothes, the perfect lawn, these were out of our reach. I also developed a fairly good perspective on how much it mattered, which is to say not much. And mostly, except for those few miserable middle school years when hormonal forces conspire to make the right pair of jeans a really, really, REALLY important thing; mostly, I was okay about not having nice things.

 

 

We didn't go without food, which both my parents knew. We didn't live in an economic depression or a war. We had more food than we could eat, and we ate more than we should.

But there came a time when I realized that there were really nice things to be had, just out of reach. I still remember my first really expensive silk blouse. Nothing pulled, tugged or scratched. Instantly a light bulb popped in my head: THIS is what it feels like to wear really expensive clothes.

I grew up and learned to live on carefully collected and parsed out earnings from a patchwork of part-time and work-study jobs. Years later when I made a really fine salary, the likes of which I'll never see again, I did some smart things, like pay down debt and some fun things, like building a roof-deck on my very own top floor condo. I learned to appreciate and to acquire things that were both beautiful and useful.

But always, deep in my DNA lurks that horder. The pack rat afraid of the inevitable lean years, the ant who knows the folly of the grasshopper.

Luckily, I've found a way to channel the impulse to save things. There's no huge ball of string or rubber bands here, (let's not discuss the bag of bags, for the moment.)

Reduce, Recycle, Reuse and Roberto Nogueron

I guess the messages of the ecology movement (as we called it back then) found some fertile soil in my head. Even while I enjoyed my first nice pair of Italian leather shoes. Learning the value of a well-balanced heel while thinking about how to save the planet. Hm.

It's a lesson in blending ideas. "Reuse" conjures up old plastic bags used in a myriad of ways from carrying bread to feed the birds, to sliding over our socks to keep our feet dry in slightly leaky boots. Re-purposing sounds so much more upscale and like something we choose to do, rather than something we're coerced into doing.
I've repurposed a large clay flower pot as a garbage can in the bathroom. Ribbons from the florist wrap pairs of napkins and placemats.