Why do I still hold on to this? Emotional reasons?

I have tossed out so many things since my mold exposure at work and subsequent cross-contamination of all my belongings at home.  I have tossed out books that I loved, tossed out all of my clothes and shoes, watched as my husband tossed my old one-eyed panda teddy bear and scottie dog from childhood, gotten rid of my computer which was less than a year old and placed all my photos away for future scanning by someone other than myself. Yet I still have this little tiny bottle of perfume. Have I ever worn it? No. Is it a small vial of a very expensive perfume? No. Do I even know what it smells like? No. Then why am I holding on to it?

When my husband and I got married in 1976 I had chosen the perfect gown. It was a candlelight color and I fell in love with it. I had gone to the bridal salon in plenty of time to get fitted and order the gown. My mother and I had been told the gown would be ready in eight weeks. Eight weeks came and went and my gown was not in. Finally twelve weeks after I ordered the gown, I received a call at work. I was so excited. The gown was in and ready for me to try on. I phoned my mom and she met me there. The dress was taken out and given to me to try on. It was more than a size too small. They had misfit me or inadvertently ordered the wrong gown. What was I going to do? It was barely over eight weeks until my wedding and this gown had taken twelve weeks. They offered to place an other order and said the gown would be here on time. I told them to do whatever they wanted. Tearfully I walked out to my car. What was I going to do?

That weekend my mother and I drove out-of-town in search of a gown I would like that we could purchase off the rack. We searched and searched and I “settled” on a gown. It wasn’t the gown I wanted but time was running out. We purchased the gown and the woman gave me this lovely little  bottle of perfume to take with me. I didn’t wear the perfume on my wedding day but this little bottle has been sitting on my dresser or table in my bedroom and moved from house to house with me all these years. Why haven’t I gotten rid of it? I honestly don’t know. I have never opened it, never wanted to wear it and now could never wear it. I guess there is something about it that brings me back to a happier time.

Sentimental Value

Sentimental Value

Today as I was talking with a friend about loss of belongings because she has found some mold in her house and is worried that she, like I, will have to get rid of clothes and other “things” (things that hold memories of a time long gone). I told her about my piles of black garbage bags that sat on the floor as my mother pulled all my clothes and shoes out of my closet (pictures will be in the book), etc. Then I mentioned the lone little vial of perfume that I have sitting in my bedroom on my dresser. Suddenly, after all these years a horrible and earth shattering thought came to my mind. Why do I have that in my bedroom? Yes it has never been opened and no fragrance or chemicals are being emitted from it. But what if? What if for some unknown reason, that innocent looking little vial of perfume were to fall on my hard tile floor and shatter. All those chemicals would be thrown into the air of my safe bedroom. How could I not have thought of this before? It is amazing what giving up possessions and memories can have on a person and make them totally “INSANE”.

It just looks pretty.

It just looks pretty.

17 responses to “Why do I still hold on to this? Emotional reasons?


    • A very dear friend of mine emailed me privately. Her suggestion was to have someone dump the perfume out, fill the little bottle with vinegar and let it sit and see if the chemicals in the bottle would diminish. If so, I could refill it with colored water, cap it and enjoy the little bottle without worrying about all the chemicals. What a great idea! You are wonderful Loretta.

  2. PrincessandthePea

    Is that Nine Ricci L’AIr du Temps? Is the bird glass or plastic? Awh yes so so hard to lose your former health and belongings. Belongings shouldn’t be needed to maintain our fond memories but they do have sentiment attached and having to forcibly lose them due to fire, allergies, theft or whatever reason, it is is difficult. Photos are what I miss most. I have been there bought the t-shirt as well. I wasn’t able to keep anything material. I did however keep my husband and children, and of course that’s all that really matters. But, yes part of me sure misses photo albums carefully assembled in various ways since my birth. I also miss carefully chosen Christmas ornaments from each year since we’ve been married and for each child each year they were alive and so many other little random ‘memories’.

    • I am not sure if that is the name. There is nothing on the bottle. The bird is plastic. My friend has offered to take the bottle, empty it and see if she can make it safe for me to just have. Yes, I kept my family and that is very important. I guess part of the sentimentality of this little bottle is because my husband and I have been separated a lot because of this illness; two three-month stints in another state for treatment as well as a year-long stint away. Then when I came home, he lived in another house because I was the only one yet to totally clean up from the mold and he had responsibilities that made it difficult for him to throw his stuff away.

  3. Of all the things you’ve written, I think this hit me the hardest, and allowed me to glimpse what a life with allergies like yours must be like. 😦 I’m tied to my possessions. Each one is a tactile door to my past, my history. My heart goes out to you. -hugs-

  4. Sometimes I think we keep things because it reminds us of a kindness shown to us when we needed it.

  5. Yes I think you are right. One of the most difficult things was to get rid of drawings my daughters had done in school, cards they had made me, etc. But as long as I have my memories and can access them I am going to be okay.

  6. We’re strange, deep beings, us humans. This reminds me of an anecdote my pastor shared with me when I was very very young. He said a man gave his wife a bottle of very expensive perfume. She was ecstatic, it was the most expensive gift she’d ever gotten. But no occasion ever came up that was “special” enough to wear the perfume. Finally, years later, some occasion came up and the wife thought finally! I can open that rare, expensive perfume! But when she did, the bottle was empty. It had all evaporated over the years. (not sure the accuracy of this, given that your bottle apparently emits no scents or chemicals). But the moral was that you can’t hold on to “things” forever – they are temporal. The love and kindness behind the gift is what’s eternal. So wear the shoes, eat the cake, spray (or throw out) the (toxic) perfume. Enjoy the temporal. Cling to the eternal. 🙂

  7. Rachel – Thank you for the wonderful comment. I make these special embroidered dish towels for my friends. I tell them not to save them or put them away. I tell them they were made with love and I intend for them to use them. If they get soiled, so what! That just means that they are being enjoyed. I like the way you put the words and the words of your pastor.

  8. Kathryn, that is the exact perfume that I use to lavish upon my neck and wrists, almost everyday. I started wearing Nina Ricci, Le Au de Temps, when I was around 17, I changed to others, but this one remained my favourite and I can still remember the beautiful smell. I understand about hanging on to things. I’m in the process of living in my new beach house while trying to sort out the things in the mouldy house. I’m lucky I have the safe room there, but a lot of my clothes, which were in the walk in closet up the mouldy end of the house, I now have to throw out. Now that I’ve been in fresh air, and when I go back to the house, I can smell it so strong (it’s bloody awful), yet while living there, in chronic pain, I could only smell a wet-damp-soil type of smell when it rained.

    • I never opened the perfume so I have no idea what it smells like. Guess I should have done it while I had the opportunity – the old shoulda, woulda, coulda thing. While you were in the other house you were beginning to mask to the odor of the mold and now that you are out and unmasking, you now can sense how strong it truly was. I am glad you are in a safe place but feel for you having to get rid of things in your closet. Oh, do I sympathize on that.

  9. Pingback: Into the Light… and Living in the Wild!

  10. Love your posts and the advice, but I don’t like that perfume or bottle.
    I understand what you have said. I have severe MCS also, plus severe respiratory lung damage caused by a prescription drug some yrs back.
    That damned perfume bottle represents all the things that injure us, and the mindset of society. You are strong, you have proven that, and I do empathize about all your clothes and belongings. I’m battling on where I was once living in an isolated-ish property, but a subdiv has been going up across.. nightmare for me in so many ways. I feel my days are numbered here. Ill all the time due to others toxics.
    It is you that matters, the person, you have found a nice setting/home, bury that perfume bottle..no one can take away your precious memories, they are there for all time, but please get rid of that toxic perfume bottle, please bury it, mother earth will deal with it. Maybe a might tree will cope with it, but we cannot. Bless you.

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