When the purge process was started, I knew the hardest thing for me to go through was going to be the movie collection. I also knew this is what I would tackle last and would put off for as long as I could get away with it.
James and I didn't have a lot of common hobbies but movies was one of them. It was not uncommon for us to go to Hollywood Video and spend $40-we had a hard time passing up the 3 for $24 movie deals! And as Hollywood was only about a mile from our house, it was convenient for us to rent and/or buy movies on a regular basis. As a result, we built up quite a collection, though we didn't buy nearly as many once we joined Netflix.
Netflix brought with it a new tradition for us. We set it up so we could have unlimited movies in a month with three movies allowed to us at a time. Most Sundays would be Sunday surprise and movie night. I would try out a new recipe-the Sunday surprise portion of the evening was what I made for dinner and whether or not we liked it-and we would randomly select two of the three Netflix movies to watch. Occasionally, we went with Sunday standby-a favorite recipe instead of a new one-and picked the two movies we were in the mood for or picked one that had randomly been passed over several times, but mostly it was a new recipe and random selection for the movies.
And then James died. I stopped cooking. I stopped watching movies. It was just too hard without him-there was no joy in watching the movies alone and cooking for one is just too damn depressing. Although over time I started to do both again, it was nothing like before. The movie collection sat neatly next to the TV gathering dust, with the occasional viewing of one-usually because someone came over and we decided to watch one to kill time. From the perspective of my friend, I had a bunch of movies I wasn't watching. Movies that were just taking up space and cluttering up the living room. Mentally, I agreed. Emotionally, what I had was a lot of memories of a tradition I loved and wouldn't mind sharing with someone else again someday. Not to mention how much it cost to build up a collection that big!
Since December, when the subject of how I was going to tackle the movies came up, I either said I didn't know or I changed the subject. I'm really good at avoiding things I don't want to deal with. Donating the movies, to me, was the final step in closing the door on my life with James. Something deep down I knew needed to be done to move forward but something I didn't want to do-what if I do this final step to make way for a new love and a new love never comes? Would I resent getting rid of that part of my past (even though I have a list and could replace the movies)? And would I resent my friend for making me do it? Even though no one was actually holding a gun to my head and making me do any of this, part of me felt like I was being forced to do it. I needed someone to blame for this part of my life I sure as hell did not ask for.
On my friend's birthday, I told him I was at his mercy and it was the one time I wouldn't argue or tell him no. He told me to start going through the movies. I told him no. Yeah, that agreement didn't last long! I should have told him why I was hesitating but I didn't. He went to the bathroom and I pulled out a movie I knew I was never going to watch, put it on the table and when he came back I told him I started the movie process. The next morning, I'd identified about a dozen movies I definitely want to keep and six I could part with; by the end of the weekend, I had 42 movies set aside to be donated to the labor and delivery department of an area hospital.
That was two weeks ago. After that, I went back to not wanting to deal with it. But the back of my mind was churning and identifying movies I could part with. But my doubts were still there. And then my friend gave me a great suggestion: she said to just box them up and put them upstairs. That way they were out of the living room but not gone. After a few months, if I didn't miss them, give them away. If I wasn't ready, hold on to them longer. And if I absolutely hated it, put them back. I decided my next step would be to identify the movies I have not yet seen and want to see and then I'd box up the rest-eventually.
This past weekend, I pulled about a dozen movies off the shelf to watch. I've ripped all my CDs to MP3 format so the CD shelf is empty. I put the "keepers" and the "to be watched" on the CD shelf to segregate them and so it wasn't just sitting there empty. My friend came was over and I told him I'd always known the movies would be the hardest. I still didn't tell him why-other than it was the final step in closing the door on James and I. He responded I was making way for love. I responded with a reluctant nod and "yep." Love I don't believe is in the cards for me because it feels that has already come and gone from my life.
Sunday morning I packed up the rest of the movies. I just got up and did it. There were a few tears but also a sense of relief. Mostly I just felt numb-something else I've become really good at. I moved them out of the living room and into a spare bedroom. They are packed up but still available if I change my mind. I went out for the day and as soon as I got home, I moved the case into the garage, taking pictures of it first so I can give it away on Craigslist (I have another one should I change my mind about all this but I don't think I will). I moved the CD case into it's place so the big, empty space isn't quite so empty. After four years, one month and 5 days, I closed that door. I told my friend she could have the movies for a garage sale she's planning to help with the costs of sending my godson's soccer team to regionals this summer. Any she doesn't take will go to the hospital.
"When one door of happiness closes, another one opens; but often we look so long at the closed door we do not see the one that has been opened for us."-Helen Keller (also attributed to Alexander Graham Bell, and probably a bunch of other people as well). I don't want to look at the closed door. I want to feel like there is one that has been opened for me but right now I feel like I am stuck somewhere between them. I can see a door in front of me, and I can see there is light under it-it is waiting to be opened. But the one just closed is a lot easier to reach.