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Holiday

Guideposts        

If a plan is just a list of things that didn’t happen, then resolutions are just guideposts on a path never taken.

           That cheerful thought was in Gabby’s mind as she resignedly yanked on the cord that raised the garage door. She had promised herself that she would tackle this chore today and while she’d never kept a resolution in her life, she didn’t want to start breaking promises to herself as well.

           Her fumbling fingers found the wall switch and the low wattage bulb illuminated the assortment of things she’d come to think of as the “Follies of the 2010’s”. It was time to clear out the past decade and make way for a new decade of mistakes and missteps.

           She had three large totes with her, and she spaced them out at the front of the garage. One was marked ‘toss’, one was marked ‘give away’ and the smallest tote was marked ‘keep’. If she had her way, by the end of today, that tote wouldn’t even be half full. It was time to let go of all those unkept resolutions.

           And the first to go was the Kondo book. Still shrink wrapped, still price stickered, never opened. Purchased with the hopes that she would find time to declutter, organize, let go of the weight of her consumerist obsessions. Moved out to the garage when she’d bought a new unicorn statue and needed the shelf space. Along with the Kondo book went several other books she’d bought on decluttering and organizing through the past decade, and several bags and small tote bins full of stickers and markers and file folders and other organizing elements. The irony of what she was doing was not lost on Gabby. Organizing her garage by throwing out her organizational accoutrements. 

           The next bookshelf held her Atkins books. And the South Beach Diet books. And Paleo, Keto, Doctor Phil’s Ultimate Weight Loss Solution. Every major diet book from the decade had found a home on her shelf – and now they were going to be rehomed at the Goodwill. 

           Gabby was aware of the way her thighs jiggled and the lovely wobble of the flab under her arms as she moved and bent and tossed. She didn’t care. She was done with making this particular resolution. Every year she wanted to lose weight. Every year she bought whatever the newest book was, bought the newest gadget. She tossed aside a shaker and a mostly full box of meal replacement shakes without a second glance. Every year she spent the first five weeks counting calories, avoiding carbs, eating only foods according to a colour wheel, using some complicated point system that seemed to change like clockwork every year (almost as though it weren’t a weight loss plan but maybe just a marketing ploy?) And every year the only thing she lost was thirty-five days. 

           After the ‘how to’ weight loss books came the healthy eating recipe books. They went as well. She was never going to eat another tasteless dish from a book that claimed kale and soybeans and lentils combined in some mystical fashion would taste ‘just like’ cheesecake. From now on if Gabby wanted cheesecake, she was going to eat the damn cheesecake.

           Next to the weight loss books were the fitness books and DVD’s. Pilates, yoga, yogalates (a particularly barbaric combination of yoga and Pilates), Zumba, boot camp, crossfit, Tae-Bo, TRX, kettlebell… It just went on and on. And every one of them went into the bin as fast as she could lift and throw them. Her Fitbit was the last in, removed from her wrist. Tomorrow she would go and buy herself a proper watch – a nice watch. Something classy.

           “What are you doing?” James ambled out to the garage.

           “Cleaning.” 

           Her boyfriend nodded. “Starting something new?”  He had the resigned look of a man who had suffered through countless ‘new’ eating and exercise regimes. He’d been through hell and back and he could tell you – in hell there were no croutons.

           “Nope.” Her voice was cheerful as she turned back to finish purging the shelves of diet and exercise books. She looked at the exercise bike and treadmill on the other side of the garage. She wouldn’t be able to drag them out by herself. She’d have to call someone to come get them. They’d be easy to donate – both of them had been hardly used.

           A few books on smoking cessation followed the diet and exercise books. Her fingers closed over a small packet on the shelf. The last cigarettes she’d bought. Turned out she didn’t need books to get herself to quit smoking. She just needed to lose someone she loved to cancer. She lifted the packet, then set it down. Some things still hurt too much.

           The urn that held her father’s ashes would stay here too. At least until she found a better spot for them, but truthfully her dad had always been happiest out in the garage puttering around, or sitting in his old worn out easy chair, having a smoke and listening to the radio. It was the best memory she had of him.

           “So, you’re not making any resolutions?” James sounded skeptical and she didn’t blame him. In the eight years they’d lived together, she was forever making and then breaking resolutions.

           “Not a one,” she stated blithely. Her ‘self improvement’ shelf was next – full of books on how to be nicer, more outgoing, more assertive, and so on and so on. She wasn’t going to try to be anything other than Gabby for this year. And that was going to be enough.

           The next shelf was painful to regard. Reams upon reams of empty notebooks, books on writing, on grammar, sentence structure, writing prompts. She’d always wanted to be a writer. She’d always thought she could be a writer. But after taking a summer off in between jobs to try to really work at being a writer, it was time to let go of this futile beautiful dream of hers. She wasn’t a writer. And she had a niece who would absolutely love all these notebooks and fancy pens. The notebooks and pens went into the bin.

           “All your notebooks!” James protested.

           “I’ve decided that buying notebooks and actually using notebooks are two different hobbies,” she said to him. “And while I’m amazingly good at buying them, I just don’t ever use them so Margaret might as well have them.”

           “So, you’re serious,” he said, “You really aren’t going to make any resolutions. None.”

           “Nope,” she chirped, adding books on knitting and crocheting and supplies for both hobbies to her now overflowing bins. She stepped back, her hands on her hips. “I think maybe that’s enough for today.” She spied a saucy book on procrastination and seized it and threw it into the bin.

           “Can I ask you to make one resolution?” he asked her.

           “You’ve never asked me to make a resolution. In fact, you think they’re silly,” she said, “You always tell me you love me just the way I am.”

           “And I think it’s time I proved that.” James knelt down in front of her, fumbling a box from his pocket. “Gabby… will you resolve to marry me this year?”

           She could hardly see him through the tears suddenly filling her eyes. She smiled.

           “I think that’s one resolution I can keep…”

January 25, 2020 03:19

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