My new linen closet is a filing cabinet, a cosmic symbol of my evolution from materialist to minimalist. It only took 66 years. In this new life living in small quarters in the woods in my new relationship, there is no special little room with a door on it for textiles. Although, there were three metal filing cabinets, one for paper, one for fishing lures and another one for — fishing lures. In the negotiation that is blending households, I appropriated a filing cabinet as my new linen closet because keeping sheets and towels on a shelf next to the garage door made me feel uncivilized. My sheets and towels need to be housed in more sanitary conditions enclosed apart from the cardboard boxes of — fishing lures. To be sure, the new minimal me isn’t suffering with less and making do with junk. I love my streamlined life. The utilitarian simplicity gives me focus. I’m keeping my material world minimal to create space in my mind.
In my past life I was a hoarder in a big house with too many closets, filling all available space with stuff to distract me from the love that was missing, medicating myself with materialism, shopping and decorating to no end. Stacks of fine linens, plush towels, polished cotton sheets, Jaccard this and damask that, afghans, quilts, and throw pillows mushroomed in my indoor forest of possessions.
Just the word “linens” puts me in a very gendered historical context with my mother, my grandmothers and women everywhere who used woven fabrics to give protection, comfort, style and status to themselves, their homes and their families. Needlework became a thing, linens became dowries, filled Hope Chests, and spread eagle on long display tables before judges at the County Fair. My female forebears knew how to sew like they knew how to cook. Sewing was part of life, a requirement of homemaking, a female essence. The women in my family took great pride in their needlework, heirlooms stitched, embroidered, knitted, crocheted and hooked.
In 2014-2016, the last two years I lived in my own house on my farm, I experimented with AirBnB, turned the master bedroom/bathroom into a guest suite and hosted city people on weekend getaways. Luxurious sheets and towels were a quick route to high ratings and effusive comments. Since the first bone needle slid through burlap, textiles have defined our quality of life. They still do, but my values have changed.
I intentionally left behind my possessions with my past life and arrived in the Pacific Northwest with no linens of my own except the camp bedding and dog towels in my car. I wanted a fresh start. And I got one. Here my sheets and towels are old and frayed, thin grids of plant material beaten into submission by Tide Pods. Of course, I could just go shopping. Luxury linens are a commodity these days. But I’m no longer medicating myself with consumption. The minimal me wants to be a different kind of rich, more invested in Nature than stuff, with plenty of time to explore — fishing lures.