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Apr 3, 2010


When Patrick and I moved last spring, we rented a storage unit so that we could keep some of our less used things there and not need to “find a home” for them right away. We’d planned to rent it for two or so months. We finally moved out last weekend, eleven months later.

I’ve been going through these things of ours, these boxes and bags and things that we decided didn’t need to move into our house with us. Much of this will find a home outside of mine, like Goodwill or the dumpster. Things like a set of headphones that came with a Walkman. Also, the actual Walkman. (Patrick will put up a fight to keep it, though, mark my words.) Several bags full of various wires and chargers that have nothing to charge, roughly a dozen broken and chewed cell phones, books and papers, gag gifts and movie posters. Things that seemed real and special at the moment, long ago, but haven’t seen the light of day in years.

Those items give me no pause before tossing them in the “Out Of The House” pile. But so many other things have made me stop, think, remember back to when the thing was new. And, in many cases, these things are even more meaningful now than then.

All of the cards and letters and notes we were given when Colin was born, as an example, were lovely then and made me smile. Now, though, when I read the stacks of good wishes from people all over the world, people who never saw me pregnant, did not come to my baby showers, but thought of us and loved us from afar, they bring me to tears. I can’t wait to show them to Colin when he’s older. I want to show him how many people loved him before he was even born; even if he doesn’t know them, they are there in the shadows.

It has been interesting to read the hundreds of cards that I’ve saved, mostly from my family. I have tried to weed out the more “mundane” cards, as one must draw the line somewhere. The ones that simply read, “Happy Birthday!” don’t make the cut to save forever. However, there are so many that need to be kept. The cards that my grandfathers wrote or signed. The letters from my sisters when they were too young to write their names less than three inches tall. The ones wishing me good luck before performances, or thanking me for singing at their relative’s memorial service. I can’t part with these.

An unscientific study of these letters and notes reveal who wrote me the most (clearly my mother, with my grandmother a close second), who has the best taste in stationery (my friend Kate by far, however a mention to my friend Julie who often makes her own), and who has the best humor in written format (usually Patrick, but he probably should be discounted for having inside knowledge).

And also, my friends, I pose to you a question: How long is too long to keep old love letters when the writer of that letter is no longer your love? I am certainly no longer in love with those people, but I will admit to feeling pleasantly nostalgic when I read those old letters. It is not always a bad thing to be a passionate, dramatic teenager with an overlarge vocabulary in love, I think, and I rather like having written evidence that I was once young, stupid, and punch-drunk happy.

Simply put, as much as I want to rid myself of clutter, there are some things that are worth keeping, if only for these occasions when I go through a tattered box in the back corner of the attic that ends up as several hours of tears and giggles, reliving my youth.

1 Readers rock!:

Beth said...

I did a lot of clutter-busting today too. Cleaned out stuff from med school - old notes and crap from rotations I did in adult medicine world. Some stuff I won't part with - like my BRS Pathology book because of all the work I put into it and then kicked ass on the shelf.

I also threw out cards I got at my med school graduation party. The sentiments were nice in some of them but really nothing worth saving.

I have a few letters from old friends and old boyfriends. I think it's ok to keep a few things that make you especially sentimental and only if they provide good and happy memories. But just a few.

I also hung onto some bad poetry I wrote as an emo teenager. Just can't bear to part with it. :)