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I'M MORE OF A CUSTODIAN, REALLY
I fight my inner packrat constantly. I can't remember if it was before or after my father died that my mom told us that he, a notorious and shameless packrat of the First Order, had refused to throw away, among other equally horrifying things, boxes of moldy college textbooks from the 60s that had been caught in a basement-flooding years ago and 10-year old road maps and box after box of computer cables and ports and parts. Boxes of pens. Boxes of paper. Boxes of old magazines. I don't think my father ever threw anything away that he thought might come in handy again and he thought EVERYTHING would come in handy again.

Obviously, since he died well before his time, he was wrong. We pitched it all, or at least most of it. My mom is STILL, 9 years after his death, going through and throwing away things that my father thought were necessary to save. I'm sure he is still spinning with wrath and horror.

I have always had the same need to squirrel things away, to save them for myself, not just for coming in handy, but for returning to, and for gazing upon...things that make up my own private collections, my personal galleries and chronicles. I don't save the sorts of things my father did; for whatever reason I have NO problem pitching that kind of crap and I don't really consider myself sentimental about 'things' in general, although I removed a couple of stuffed animals from the bag of discards that my children had decided they'd outgrown, because stuffed animals are worse than CRACK where I'm concerned and I have a heavy habit which I hide by pretending all those damn plush critters belong to them and not me, but I'm so lying and they know it. Mamas, don't let your babies get started on the stuffed animal habit! It leads nowhere but to devastation and despair!

Where was I?

Oh yes, squirreling things away. In my time I've saved things like miscellaneous playing cards (for the designs on the backs) and stickers, and notes a flirty but unknown boy wrote to me when we shared a desk during high school; him in 4th period and me in 6th period, and there was nothing like the exhilaration of putting my hand in the desk and finding an intricately folded, blue-ballpoint-penned missive written to ME because he thought I was cute and I didn't even know WHO HE WAS, O! the mystery and the delicious thrill!

I do go on wild cleaning, purging binges in which I ferociously attack the closets and the pantry and the drawers and the shelves and ruthlessly clear out everything that is old, unused, out of style, never-to-be-read-again or just plain tiresome. My family lives in fear of these cleaning-tsunamis, but I love the way they flow in, pushing aside everything in their path, and then ebb, leaving things empty and open and spacious and READY TO BE FILLED AGAIN.

I save poems and quotations that move me, writing them down in the close embrace of carefully chosen blank journals with lovely covers. I rip funny stories and pretty pictures and interesting essays out of magazines and stuff them into notebooks. I set aside drawings and art that my children create, and my friends, and my own. I've filled numerous shadowboxes with the ephemera and memories of travels and places and people. I fill photo albums. I save books I love. I have 4 boxes of beautiful clothing that I can't fit into and can't bear to part with because I have been unable to be ruthless ENOUGH. Things that I have moved countless times from closet to closet to closet, through a successive series of moves, up to and including the one across the ocean.

Thank god for those moves, I sigh, because I can't imagine where I would have put the accumulation of years otherwise. And yet, if you've seen my house, I don't think you would call it cluttered or full of STUFF.* Well, maybe you would. I'm certainly no minimalist. :)

Nowadays a lot of my packrat energy is diverted into VIRTUAL saving, which helps. I save art from online galleries and poetry and quotations, and emails and journal entries; once in awhile burning them onto a CD and then carefully labeling it and putting it into a scrapbook on my shelf. The cleaning/purging binges happen here, too, though. My overly organizing, tidy Virgo self can't go too long without putting her foot down and bringing things back to a manageable level.

I'm not just saving things for the sake of saving them. I don't necessarily think they will come in handy someday. I'm KEEPING them. I'm ARCHIVING them. I'm PRESERVING them. It's more than a matter of "one man's trash is another man's treasure," I think. Still, I fight it constantly. Some days I win, some days I lose. But often I wonder...when I'm getting rid of things, am I really winning? Does it just depend on what it is I'm getting rid of? What do you think? And do you think there's a cure for the stuffed-animal-sickness or am I doomed forever?

A Day Full of Good Food, Good Company and Good Wishes to the Birthday Boy, my Baby Brother: johann_metzger!

Wishes for a Wonderful, Warm and Bonny Birthday to emmabovary!

*full of books, yes, there's no denying that.
 contemplative
mood: contemplative
music: Fine Young Cannibals—Don't Ask Me To Choose


Comments
(Anonymous)

I throw everything out. Every. Thing. And I regret having thrown away much of it.

~Sprigs

See, that's why I can't! I can remember plenty of things that I regret getting rid of. It's a curse.

October 2019
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