J and I have been paying some long overdue attention to our house. We’ve been cleaning and de-cluttering and throwing away stuff we’ve accumulated that isn’t us or no longer (if ever) necessary. First, we tackled the bonus room and other rooms. Next, we emptied the guest room.
Our focus this week has been the garage, and I’ve learned a few things:
- It’s incredibly embarrassing that we’ve accumulated enough new crap to fill a dumpster only 2 years after the last dumpster rental
- I’ve become ruthless when it comes to junk: throw it out! We obviously haven’t needed it or missed it.
- J is a paperwork hoarder – it is astonishing the number of boxes containing old paperwork we have schlepped from residence to residence.
- What were we thinking putting a box of empty gift boxes from Christmases gone by in the loft instead of the trash?
- If anyone needs furniture/moving blankets, we’ve got you covered
A couple of the boxes were items from high school and college that I have saved. A few playbills from plays I was in. A few papers I was especially proud of. A folder containing lesson plans from the unit on existentialism for the 10th graders I student taught. And notebooks containing my writing and thoughts. J kept remarking that I had a weird expression on my face as I went through those boxes, and he was right. It felt weird. I didn’t remember some of the events I’d written about – fairly trivial in retrospect but misery for the 17- and 18-year old me. I wasn’t very happy in high school, and my freshman year of college was one of adjustment. Not academically but socially. I’ve always struggled to find the place where I fit in, and those years were not my best. The words, the poems…it took me back. I’m sure that a lot of what I felt was typical teenager angst, but the misery leapt off the pages (Amber, if you are reading this, I bet you understand).
I finally told J that I wasn’t ready to throw away the stuff, but I’d be happy if we could shove the boxes into a corner somewhere and I could try to forget they existed.
I don’t know why I’m hanging on to what I chose to keep. Do I want Daniel to find my old notebooks and read them? My essays and stories? Sure! Indulge in the brilliance that was my college years (ha!). My notebooks/diaries? Not really. Those notebooks were used sporadically, so the context is missing. But I can’t help but feel like they are a tiny bit precious. They contain a little bit of the teenage me. Maybe they are my horcrux(es?).
So those items escaped the Great Purge of 2011. We’ve made progress in our de-cluttering, cleaning and sprucing up.
So have I.
How do you feel when you come across items from your adolescence or past?