Monday, May 10, 2010

My life, in boxes

Not that this blog is now all about getting rid of stuff or anything, but...

...I've been getting rid of a lot of stuff. We had a yard sale on Saturday and it went really well. I expected to be haggled down by all the yard sale pros, and I was. The most impressive person was a lady wearing headphones who picked through our stuff with alarming efficiency and managed to snatch up the things we had priced most competitively (read: too low).

What I didn't expect was to feel genuine happiness that other people - strangers, even - were finding joy in our old possessions. We had some pretty random items for sale but I was surprised and gratified when those items were exactly what someone was looking for (though no one ever did buy my old Syntax: A Minimalist Introduction book).

In preparation for the yard sale, I went through all the old boxes full of hud that we've had sitting around, including the dreaded Childhood Boxes. You know the ones I mean - they're full of old drawings and yearbooks and ratty blankets and junior high school notes, and your parents usually force you to take them after you've established yourself away from home. Maybe that works really well for someone who moves only once and then stays there forever. For perpetual movers like us, it really sucks.

So I went through the Childhood Boxes and decided to be ruthless. I was only going to keep things I really loved and throw sentimentality to the wind once and for all.

I got rid of this:

and these:

and this:

and these:

and this:

and even these:

and I feel pretty good about it.

I did keep a few things, including my graduation cap tassel, my high school yearbooks, and some old letters from a wide range of friends spanning a wide range of years. Because what I didn't want to happen was for me to lose those vestiges of my old self.

Sometimes I hear stories of grown children going through boxes of their deceased parents' or grandparents' things - things those parents and grandparents thought were important enough to keep - and how those things form a coherent story of an individual with experiences positive and negative, silly and mundane, momentous and trivial. I don't want my kids and grandkids to go through my things and think my life was all organized filing cabinets and tidy photo boxes. I'm not saying they're definitely going to be really glad I kept that postcard from my sixth-grade friend telling me about her trip to Hawaii, but hey, maybe they will.

Plus, I found a $5 bill (seriously!) tucked into one of the cards I had kept.

So, you know, there was that reward, too.


Andrea said...

I totally had the wooden block name. Mine was pink though. Too bad I wasn't one of those girls who was obsessed with pink.

EmmySue said...

Having grown up a "nomad" we didn't really get to keep much. Now it is just dealing with all the hubby's "junk". I think we all go through it.

Kathy Haynie said...

Hahaha - I'm on the parent end of the "childhood boxes." Will they EVER get out of their college apartments and into real houses so I can finally offload the boxes of "treasures" and clean out my basement?

Kristen Sheranian said...

I totally feel like that. I have so many bins from my childhood. I complain about my parents and their obsessive behavior to keep every memento that was ever given to them, but I find myself doing the same. Not as bad but still I can't seem to get rid of so many things. I have got to come up with a better way to organize and manage all my memories!

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Now that everyone has digital cameras making home photography cheap, we should take photos of special papers and awkward-to-store items, then chuck the stuff.

Bridget, you think you now have your childhood in one easy-to-transport carton but I haven't yet given you the boxes of your 'speshul' stuff in our dungeon . . .

Katie said...

Mom--I promise that someday we will move into a house and take my boxes away. And then probably get rid of most of it. Bwahahahha.


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