Day 205--a spring cleaning

If you want to see a shrine to sentiment, visit my old room in my parents' home. Twenty-plus years of tangible memories stuffed, stacked, packed into an 8' by 12' shoebox, sans closet.

The closet was, is pretty bad.

Under my bed, in dressers, bureaus, under the computer stand, on the floor, on a chair, on the bookshelf, on the other bookshelf, in bags leaning against the dresser. On my bed so that I would have to relocate it all when I wanted to sleep. The clutter was everywhere.

I was a packrat. I am a packrat, though I'm recovering. While a portion of the junk can be chalked up to bulk mail that I hate sorting, the rest is--honestly--almost everything I've coated with an emotional or sentimental attachment. Letters. Greeting cards. Slips of paper with notes on them. Buttons. Essays I wrote in middle school. Craft projects lined with felt. Ads for concerts. Movie ticket stubs. Coasters. High-school short stories. Bottle caps. And, almost as an fleeting joke, a layer of dust over much of the harder-to-reach things.

These things all have memories attached, inlaid with faces of childhood friends, woven with jokes from family, fused with nuance, light and shadow. As much as a collector as I am, many of these things were kept to serve as catalysts, in hope that the memories would linger as long as their anchor remained. If I had only had some effective sort of cataloguing things while I was still a teen; it would've saved my mom and dad some of their breath.

I still cherish--will continue to cherish--the memories with which I've been blessed, as one of my favorite writers reminded me. But I've been learning that I don't need to place some form of misguided attachment to an inanimate object to cherish. I made the first big step in this regard when I moved to Beaver Falls. I was always that guy who loaded everything he owned into his dorm room in college; I know I brought less (books, clothes, computer) for a fairly permanent move. The clutter and keepsakes stayed behind.

As I pack for a trip this weekend, I think about what I need and what I don't need. As I look to hopefully move in the next month, I'll think about the necessities and what I can just keep intangibly. As I cancel a subscription-based computer game I've played for years, I think about the fun times I had and keep those thoughts alone. As I sell or give away the hundreds of CDs and DVDs I've collected over the years, I know that many of the songs will play in my head long after the plastic has been resold into someone else's hands.

I don't think I'll ever escape my packrat tendencies, but I know that I can store memories in my heart more easily than in a stack of dusty keepsakes.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 3/29/2007 12:45:00 AM,


At 11:23 PM, Blogger Brandon Zangus said...

i feel ya on the pack rat end.

At 9:51 AM, Blogger Russ said...

So what is to happen to the stuff at your folks' place? Surely it won't stay there forever?

At 9:41 AM, Blogger Jason said...

It won't, Russ. In fact, it hasn't, really--before I moved to Beaver Falls, I blazed through my room and cleaned up as much as I could. It's spotless now; well, there is a stack of bulk mail that I need to shred one of these days, but that'll happen sooner than later, I'm sure.

At 4:20 PM, Blogger Russ said...

Good call. But just cause you're out of town doesn't mean you can shirk your bloggin' duties!!

Hope all is well.


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