From perfume to cars, life is better used up

During my year of no new clothes — buying them for myself anyway — I’ve tried to focus on using up anything that I have. The last month I noticed the row of perfume bottles on my dresser. Many of them were given to me as gifts by my female Qatari friends for birthdays, my PhD graduation, or new jobs (there have been three in the last five years). Needless to say I had no excuse for ever smelling like anything but roses. Fourteen bottles of chemical delight are more than any woman needs so I decided to share the designer love. My mother got the Cartier; a student the Dior; I confess to re-gifting a few here and there as the occasion required. I was not immune to the power of Duty Free after several trips with my students to other countries. One of the most purchased items on these excursion was invariably perfume.

I was feeling so good about using up the endless perfume supply and getting down to only four bottles that I even went ahead and bought myself a bottle at the tiny branch of Jo Malone at the Frankfurt airport. A few days ago however, disaster struck my plan. I was getting to the seemingly endless bottle of Narciso Rodriguez For Her when the top flew off, never to be seen again. Under the dresser to hide with buttons and dead skin cells, I contemplated the half empty bottle. The opaque pink surface did not give me any assurance I had done my best by the scent. I felt cheated when I threw the bottle away. Another dilemma: Chasmere by Donna Karan had a hole in the bottle from our house cleaner and I could see each time he came to visit a little more leaked out. I think I may go and douse myself later this weekend to put it and me out of our misery.

Using up things to their maximum before getting new ones is my new motto after this year of not buying clothes; the restraint has spilled over into many areas from shoes, bags, perfume, to cars. Today I was in the fourth car accident of my five years in Qatar. This one was not my fault; a young driver, no more than eighteen years old, sped into the roundabout in front of me. In a blink he was there and so was I. I gasped outloud at the smash.  I wasn’t fiddling with the radio or my iTrip or my phone although these are all things I do everyday. In fact I had just reminded myself to focus only on driving when it happened. Of course my day was thrown off kilter and I will write later about the procedures one has to go through in Qatar to register a traffic accident.

But the impact made me realize that the last thing I need is a new car. I need old, old things so that when they are damaged or lost, I won’t have regret but know that I fully used up something that I bought.

The ‘bugy’ as my car is known has been through it. A hazard of being owned by me.