02 November 2007

Old Boots

With the return of the morning frost-scraping ritual comes the semi-annual closet switcharoo. Corduroys and heavy sweaters are emerging for another year of duty, some a little rusty and bedragled.

The past few years I've been trying to minimize my shopping, only splurging for the essentials while trying to wear out the gems in my over-stuffed dresser drawers. It's somewhat sad to say that I've had to go through several years of restraint to even start to see the effects.

Today I pulled out two pairs of black boots that should never have been stored in the first place, heels worn down and toes scuffed beyond the repair of polish. I really debated if they should be cleaned up, made to suffer through one more winter, just a few more snowstorms. I'm not sure what lessons my depression-era grandmother gave me or how she got them to stick so well, but I pretty much have to be able to see through clothes before I feel justified in getting rid of them. And honestly, even then I prefer to have a hole or two just for safe measure.

Were they nice boots, I would've had them repaired, but one was an $8 pair I scored on a Target clearance rack years ago and the other came from a discount shoe store that sold mismatched pairs so long as the size was only off by a little bit. Yet, I still debated most of the afternoon while I caught up on laundry and gradually mixed the winter gear in with my year-long standards. The kicker was that once I did finally choose to give them up, I realized that they were so bad I don't think Goodwill would even want them.

The whole experience got me thinking about where we draw the line between hoarding and just being a packrat and how our definitions of rational behaviors change over time and in different cultural and economic settings. I'm fortunate to have several other pairs of black boots still waiting in the closet and so by our standards I was being irrational by holding onto boots that looked bad and were quite worn down. Yet, in other circumstances, it would've been irrational to toss them because they weren't entirely useless.

Anyway, I guess I'm probably a little off that I'm so interested in how we react to our own "stuff." But I doubt my obsession will be as easy to toss as my old boots.

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