Lessons in Attachment

I have an affliction. I become attached to the smallest items. My house is brimming with stuff, and every piece, every clipping, vase, trinket, knickknack has a story. I can tell you how each of these came into my possession, who gifted me, where I was when I found it in a shop while traveling. I am surrounded in a multitude of personal history icons and talismans.

In 1971, I started college. I was predominantly self-funding my education, with a small state scholarship, the tips I had saved from working in the neighborhood diner for 2 years, and a modicum of funds from my birth father, who objected to the notion of a college education. As he saw it, I should have either gone to work at IBM, where he could have set me up with an entry-level position, or enlist in the Air Force, since he served as a master sergeant in the Air National Guard. Neither of these options were viable choices for my temperament.

Last days of my trusty desk lamp

I sorted through my bedroom to pack what I would need for my first semester. I started a list of necessary items provided by Student Affairs, including a desk lamp. I had a limited budget, of course, and found a reasonably priced, crane-like lamp in red, my favorite color, and added it to the pile. That lamp has been a part of my life since, and for the last 20 years, has been clamped to the corner of the desk in my second-floor home office.

A couple of years ago, I noticed sometimes the lamp hissed at me when I turned the switch. Sometimes it was a slight sizzle, but it would stop so quickly that I dismissed it as merely temperamental. But this spring, as I started to work at home, the sizzling concerned me. I fear house fires; since my home is 130 years old, and filled with all this stuff, I stopped using the lamp in the interest of safety, yet left it standing guard of its corner.

A friend suggested that I could perhaps take it apart and see if there was a short that could be easily fixed. I am up for a challenge most times so I finally spent an hour fiddling with it, only to make matters worse. I was defeated and knew there was no resurrection.

I tried to purchase a replacement but it is really hard to find these lamps anymore. They were once standard but now seem to be relics. Instead, I ordered two small ring lights, since I am on Zoom a good portion of any given week, and I have two other lovely lamps in the room. I took the dead lamp downstairs to carry to the curb, and couldn’t let it go out of the house for two weeks. Then, I finally gave in. Tuesday afternoon, as I took my recycling and trash cans to the curb for the Wednesday morning pick-up, I put the lamp on the top, hoping the metal pickers would retrieve it on their weekly swing through the neighborhood. If no one took it, it is now in the landfill. My ring lamps are not here yet, probably in a shipping container in Long Beach, waiting for distribution, and the trucks they will ride until delivered to my door.

I will confess, the small ceramic base of the fixture that I could not repair is on a shelf in my office next to a photo and some other knickknacks. I just could not give it all away yet.

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