gifts

Waiting

Our anniversary is coming up and I was thinking of gifts to commemorate our time together. I thought about getting him a gift that would let him know that I would wait for him to be ready. Ready for what? For everything that social norms has been suggesting we do: settle down, get married, have kids, etc. Social norms (in a heteronormative world) also imply that women are much more likely to be “ready” for these next steps than men and more often than not, we women are “waiting” around for the men to “get their act together” to move into these next steps with us.

However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized I hated the idea of waiting. It’s not that I don’t want to wait and think I should find someone who won’t make me wait – it’s that I hate the connotation that “waiting” implies. That somehow I have the upper hand in the relationship, that there is a timeline to be met and someone is not meeting that timeline. In other contexts, sure – waiting is appropriate. In a relationship? There shouldn’t be a “waiting” in the sense that you want someone to “catch up” to you.

People ask us the very common, “When are you getting married?” At first, I would joke: “Well, that’s up to him. *nudge nudge*” After a few of those, I hated it because that meant I would put him on the spot, that I was placing pressure on him to do something he may or may not be ready to do. That didn’t sit well with me and I shouldn’t be throwing him under the bus when those questions arise. If anybody is doing any kind of “waiting” around, it should be the both of us, together. Both of us need to be ready, together, to move into whatever steps we want to move into. It shouldn’t be that one of us gets there first – we aren’t hiking. He isn’t 20 steps ahead while I huff and puff my way up the incline. That isn’t a relationship. That’s playing a game of “Who will get there first with me that I can tolerate?”

So I’m back to square one for gifts. Maybe we don’t need gifts. I know I don’t need one. Just like all the times I make comments about coworkers getting flowers delivered to them at the office. Sure, it would be nice to have, but in no way, shape or form, does his sending flowers to me make, break, or change our relationship. It’s nice to have, but I don’t need it. I need him and I would trade a million roses in the world if that meant I could get him next to me instead. But gifts are another topic for another day.

 

Quality Over Quantity

I am learning – slowly – not to hoard. These were tendencies I picked up from mother who had lost everything in my family’s journey to the US after the Vietnam War and did what she could to be as resourceful as she could – just in case we would need it some day.

That’s what happened to me. I “collected” things because I’d need them some day and most importantly, were on sale, free, and/or gifts. I tried to part with many things as I tidied up my living spaces, but sometimes it was hard for me to get rid of things. The hardest were gifts from others. Not necessarily because I’d need them some day, but because I valued that they were gifts to me from another person. That someone else had taken the time to think of me and to select something that would be fitting of me. If I were to throw them out/donate/sell, I would feel as if I am disrespecting or dismissing their efforts and their time to build a relationship with me.

Then I had a “collection” of nostalgic items – items that held no other purpose except to remind me of how nice that person had been to me once upon a time. I had clothing, stuffed animals, trinkets, jewelry, etc that I hadn’t worn, read, or touched in a long time, if ever. But I kept them just for that nostalgic piece. How do I choose which nostalgic item to keep or not keep? What will be important to me? I don’t have a rubric to fall back on. Do I keep the gifted origami $20 bill or unfold it and spend it?

That collection grows. It grows to where I have so many pieces, I don’t know what to do with them all. Soon, I have the very unfortunate task of trimming, of deciding which I keep and which I don’t. What stays – what goes? How do I determine the quality of this item? How can I measure how much this item means to me? When can I look at it, cherish it, and say, “It is okay. You served me a great purpose once upon a time, but I have changed now and I don’t need you in the same way I once did and I know you can’t change with me. You are free to go.”

While I know that I must trim, must not hoard, it doesn’t hurt nonetheless to say goodbye to these items. But I can’t keep them. We’re too different now and that’s okay. It’s not about making room for other nostalgic items, mind you. I don’t remove things just to add more things – or I try not to – but it’s about determining the quality of my life. I need to evaluate if what’s in it at the moment is a right fit for me and if it is not, do what I must to make it so we can fit.

So thank you, birthday gift of 1999. You served me well and now you must find a new home.