Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall. — F. Scott Fitzgerald
A friend of mine moved to New York several months ago. Her husband got a new job and so they left their cute little apartment in West Hollywood to take on the busy streets of the West Village.
With her old apartment now empty, she had to decide what to do with it. Their lease still had a few years left on it and it was locked in at several hundred dollars below the market. Should they try to get out of the lease or rent it out?
It was at such a tempting price point even I considered moving there. Not to mention it’s just a few blocks away from Alfred’s, the bloggers’ haven. I let myself dream about my days spent in the coffee shop, writing blog after blog of notable content. Eventually, I added up the cost of all the lattes, and occasional $5 croissants, and figured it’d be financially beneficial for me to stay put.
In fact, none of her friends were able to take it off their hands, the timing not being right for a move. So, after some contemplation, they decided to Airbnb it so they could keep it as a backup property if the whole New York thing didn’t work out. And also, because it’s such a steal, how could they give it up?
I took it off. I did not want to carry it with me anymore.
Fast forward several months and a few seasons, my friend recently came back to visit. Her trip was brief, and a few of the days she was stuck at the apartment, dealing with petty maintenance issues. We met up to go hiking and she confided in me that renting it out was turning out to be more of a headache than it was worth.
“I’m holding on to it because of what it was, and this idea of what it could be, but I realize now, as amazing as it is, it no longer has a place in my life,” she said, “I need to let it go.” (I’m paraphrasing here because I forgot to record her, the genius that she is).
She was talking about her apartment, but it got me thinking about life in general. How often do we hold on to things that no longer serve us? Not just the jeans that lost their shape or old jewelry we’ll never take out of the drawer, but friendships we’ve outgrown, relationships past their prime?
Just because something is valuable doesn’t mean it has value in our lives.
The subtle art of letting go.
Of all the things I’ve purged over the years, I only regret one thing I gave away; my Twiggy dress. It was light pink with subtle ruffles on the bottom, with a huge graphic of Twiggy on the front. I think the eyes were bedazzled.
My friend Noelle happened to be helping me get rid of stuff that day, and when it came to that dress she asked me “Are you sure?” a few times, not because she liked it, but because she knew I did. Given that she was ruthless with everything else I tossed, I should have heeded her thinly veiled warning.
“I’m not 21 anymore,” I justified (trying to convince myself), “I’m never going to wear it again.”
It was rare — a gift from London! — and valuable, at least in my eyes. Indeed, it brought me a lot of happiness at one time. It was made for me, it seemed. And my 21-year-old self had plenty of fun in it. It had a good run… but it was no longer serving me.
I needed to let it go, so it could have a good life with a new owner. I ended up donating it to “Out of the Closet” in West Hollywood so I’m sure it made someone very happy. At least, that’s what I tell myself when the knot of regret forms in the back of my throat at the thought of it. Could’ve given it to my future daughter, smh.
Drawing a line in the sand.
I grasped a concept that day that I guess I’m still trying to grasp consistently. It’s okay to let things go. Even things of great value.
Perhaps we’ve outgrown it. Maybe it’s outgrown us. Maybe we’ve hit a fork in the road and can no longer continue on the same path. Or maybe this new season has opened our eyes to the reality of what we truly need, not what we think we need or want. Maybe, what we’re holding onto is only weighing us down.
There is freedom in letting go of what we no longer need. You feel it anytime you spring clean or donate a big bag of clothes (farewell, Twiggy). A space enters your life, a breathability. For a moment you can resist the urge to fill it and just appreciate the openness it brings.
Not all your hangers need clothes on them. All pauses don’t need words. All vacancies need not be filled.
The mountains you are carrying, you were only meant to climb.
Without that LA apartment, my friend may lose her safety net. She’ll be giving the golden egg to another goose.
Yet, the truth is, she doesn’t need a safety net. All she needs, she has right now. All she wants is in front of her. Her life and focus are forward, and that old apartment is nothing more than a reminder of who she used to be. It’s not home anymore, and she’s no longer the girl who lived there.
She’s grown, changed, sharpened in a way that only new challenges and experiences can sharpen you. She’s stepped into a new season, and there’s no looking back. Even if she did come back, she wouldn’t go back to that place.
She just needs to know it’s okay to let go.
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation. All opinions are my own.