I’m a pack rat. Maybe not as bad as my mom, and certainly not as bad as my Aunt Leila was, but I’m worse than many. Much of what I’ve kept is only of interest to me, like notes from former students and their parents, paper napkins from special (or ordinary) meals and trinkets (and sometimes the boxes they arrived in) given to me by friends, students, and loved ones. I’ve also kept samples of my writing from middle school through college (including my personal journals and diaries).
The reason I’ve kept these things is to look back and remember who I was and what I felt when I used/was given/wrote these things. While there is nothing wrong with that, at some point the extra room in the attic or basement becomes filled or the silverfish find the paper and chew holes through the words and it is time for these things to go. Well, many of them at least.
I began such a purge a few months ago. The first to go were a few posters I’d been keeping just in case I ever taught again. No need for a 12 year old poster about the White House anymore. And my Middle Earth poster from 1976 really has seen better days, even though I did laminate it when I was a teacher.
Although I discovered a few things that I am not sure why I kept them, the reason I kept most of them is still clear to me. Here is a short list of some of the items:
- A Washington Post Style section article about the end of the series, Roseanne. I have no idea why I kept that. I didn’t like the series that much.
- A Holly Hobbie bell with a saying about friendship. (I never did like Holly Hobbie and don’t remember who gave me the bell)
- A shirt with unicorns on it that I was making into a pillow. It was an ugly shirt and would have made an equally ugly pillow, but I was a sucker for Unicorns.
- A Ziggy figurine holding a “Last Place” trophy. I don’t know who gave it to me, or why. I only hope I didn’t buy it for myself.
- A shoebox full of slogan buttons from middle school, high school, schools where I taught, department stores where I worked, campaigns, tourist gift shops and miscellaneous other places. These did hold meaning for me and for a while I collected “badges”.
- A dictionary full of paper napkins. This might be worth a separate post. Some are pretty funny.
- Two disintegrating envelopes. One labeled, “Cinder – One year” and the other labeled “Cinder’s whisker”. The first still holds a small bit of black fur from the cat my father gave me 40 years ago but the whisker has disappeared. (Um. Ick?)
- A silverfish-eaten piece of paper which has a note written on it by my dad. I know why I kept this. It might be the only piece of his handwriting I own.
- A couple of broken or chipped coffee mugs. One of these mugs was the first piece of kitchenware that I bought for my first apartment and the other was a wedding gift from a Pittsburgh friend.
- A boxful of broken crystal unicorns — the were intact until Clare, in an attempt to get something from a shelf in our secretary where the unicorns lived, tilted it enough so they all fell to the floor. I’d given her my unicorn collection, so it wasn’t as if they were mine anymore, but it was a little traumatic — for the both of us.
I got rid of nearly everything from the list above, but did take some photos /scans for old time’s sake.