About five years ago, Max asked, “Can I order some plutonium on the Internet?” I said, “I’m pretty sure you can’t order plutonium on the Internet.” Max said, “Yes you can. I found a website.” (Of course he did.) “It comes in a cool container with an awesome label on the side.” I said, “You mean the haz-mat label? The do-not-open-under-any-circumstances-because-its-radioactive-label?” Max said, “Well, yeah, but it’s a really cool container. It would look great in my room.” I said, “Maybe it’s not real plutonium, Max.” Max said, “You’re probably right. It’s only $150.” (Um.)
The next evening, I got a text from Max around 7 p.m.. “I need to buy these things for my science project: a small black poster board I’ll find out the exact dimensions; yellow, red, and orange paper, glue; sticker letters to spell out ‘plutonium’.” I asked, “When do you need these items?” He responded, “ASAP and I need to go with you.”
After I lectured him for a few minutes about doing things at the last minute (which was done in the car on the way to pick up the materials for his science project due the next day so really effective), I asked him, “Okay, tell me something about plutonium.” He said, “Well, its symbol is Pu. Which could be read as either Pee-You or Poo.” “Great intro,” I told him. “Let’s work on some graphics.”
This all became relevant again when I realized that my Max had cleaned his room, about a week ago. He had not just done the typical teen hoarder thing, where they shove everything under the bed or in the closet or into a drawer. Really cleaned it. And – I realized he had moved all of the crap he didn’t want in his room into the “spare” bedroom that we use as an exercise room and guest bedroom.
I once told Max, “There is Max detritus all over this house.” He asked me, “What does that mean?” I said, “It’s little pieces of Max left behind everywhere you go.” I now realize, there’s less and less detritus of Max – and his brother Shane – throughout our home. I took the detritus of Max that he had shuttled from his bedroom to the guest bedroom and bagged it up. And threw it out. Just as I did when his brother moved out. It was pretty damn painful.
When my sons were younger, I couldn’t get rid of anything of theirs. School art, stuffed animals, toys. They would cry and tell me, “No, mom. Please don’t throw that away, it’s mine.” And so I ended up with boxes of papers and drawings and toys. Then one day, they were able to just walk away and let it go. Of course, they left their crap with me. But to their credit, they learned the lesson – the one that I kept freaking telling them. Life is not about what you accumulate. It’s about love and action.
Now, I am the one who struggles between keeping four copies of a school photo or just letting it go. Holding onto that camp t-shirt or letting it go. But I have learned, I am learning, as I so often do, from my sons. As we often say in yoga practice, let go of that which does not serve you. As I fill and refill the recycle bin, fill up bags with Goodwill donations, I tell myself, let go, woman. Let that shit go.
Just so you know, Max didn’t order plutonium from the Internet. And every day, we move a little more detritus from our home, and let more love in. Also, plutonium has a half-life of 87.74 years.
And love – it has no half-life.