October 3, 2010


This week, I was trying to cram things into our hall coat closet and Jack said, "We need a bigger closet." I thought about it a little bit and responded, "No, we need fewer coats." Our house isn't huge, but we have way more than enough room . . . it just sometimes feels cramped and cluttered because of all our massive amounts of unnecessary "stuff."

So, we are in the middle of a purge. If we don't love it and/or it never gets used, it's gone. The camp garage sale is in 2 weeks, and we're well on our way to donating more than anyone else (not that its' a contest . . . but if it were . . . well, you know). We've spent much of the day clearing out our home and storage area of useless junk.

Part of this involved me going through some old trunks full of memorabilia that I've been collecting for 32 years now. I sorted through medals and report cards . . . old papers on the solar system and yearbooks with some insightful messages from former classmates. Did you know that I pretty much had every birthday card I received from the time I was born until I turned . . . oh, about 21? Because I did. The parent info folder on the trip to Europe I took as a high school junior was still there, with every last bit of no-longer-relevant information about the trip. I also found what might be some of my very first "graphic design" work, which I hope to scan and post later this week.

As I've been going through all of this stuff, I've forced myself to throw things away that I really wanted to hold on to. I know that I will never need all of the sheet music I ever played in high school (given that I no longer own a flute and have no intention to buy another one), but I wanted to keep it. And I realize that ribbons that I won on the 7th grade swim team and figure skating medals from 1987 are not things I ever plan on displaying, but throwing them away seemed so wrong. And why on earth do I need to keep every RSVP card from our wedding, sorted in order of where they were seated? What is it that makes me cling to those things so much?

I guess some of it has to do with wanting to remember who I am and who I was. I wrote a while ago about how we all become our own doppelgangers and that's good . . . I just don't want to forget how I got here. And I guess a part of me wants my boys to know this too.

The crawl space at my parents' house was where they stored all of this kind of stuff. They were actually pretty good about throwing stuff away (or so it seemed), but there was one box that belonged to my mom that held her childhood report cards and a few other things that were hers. There wasn't much, but for some reason, I loved looking in that box (and often did it when she wasn't around, because I got in trouble every time I messed with it). It didn't tell me much about her, but was fascinating to me to think about my mom at my age. I always wondered what it would be like to meet her then.

I guess this blog will serve as a better keepsake than medals or trophies ever will. And I'm leaving so many ways for my boys to know who their mom was, that they'll probably wish I had left a little less. But as I hear Kyle taking the trash bags out to the garage, I still feel like I'm saying goodbye to a little piece of my history.


Anonymous said...

I can totally relate...there are lots of relics from my childhood that I can't part with for some reason!

BUT...when I feel the need to purge, I totally take advantage of it, because I know that sometime soon, the feeling will pass and I'll have missed out on it.

Jeanette said...

We had to do the same thing when we moved. I finally threw away sheet music from my voice lessons in college and some magazines from 2004...what? Why do I keep magazines from 2004?

Sara Neufeld said...

this is so inspiring. I SO need to do this!!