The Things We Keep

I just finished reading Alisa Bowman’s blog post “We Cleaned Out Grandma’s House. You’ll Never Believe What Happened Next” and it got me thinking about the things that I collect.

Ever since childhood I’ve always been a collector. Seashells, charms, letters, old purses, you name it. My mother said I got it from my grandfather, her dad, whom I never met. She says that’s were she and my aunt got it from because their mother was not a collector at all. In fact, Grandma Mary hated old stuff, the antithesis of your average person who lived through The Depression.

As I got older, I had to narrow down my collection a few times. We moved a lot when I was a kid, and every time we moved, the junk had to be culled. I regret it to this day, but when I finally moved out of my parents house, I got rid of a file cabinets worth of old papers – school papers with A’s, letters to friends when we moved out of state, articles I’d collected. I was going through a mood and decided that none of it was worth keeping. Ahhh hindsight. But lets face it, we cant’ keep everything!

I’ve been helping my adopted aunt clean through her collection of stuff for the past few years. You’d swear by going through her basement that she had done exactly that – kept everything. It’s made me re-evaluate my own collecting habits. I try to be stricter with myself now. Which is actually kind of ironic since I now own a 4 bedroom house and have plenty of room to keep a lot more than I used to. But getting into this house, we spent three months living out of a half-packed apartment, surrounded by boxes, with less space than we had when everything was out. When we got into this house, the front two rooms had to go under immediate construction due to water damage, so we were living out of our bedroom and the kitchen and we left the majority of our belongings in boxes, in the garage. As the front two rooms became available to move into, I suddenly didn’t want to fill them up. All that space! That glorious, empty space. So things have stayed in the boxes.

It was only recently that things started feel too empty to me. I’ve been sorting through my old belongings deciding what I can’t part with, even if I can’t display it, and what I can. In the middle of this sorting I’m organizing a garage sale. It might be ready by fall. But in this re-evaluation of my “things” I’m finding that items I’ve hung onto for 10 years, thinking “when I get a house I will display this again” are finding their way into the garage sale. Funny how priorities change.

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