As I was growing up, my mom tucked my special things away in the attic, slowly filling storage file boxes with artwork, clothing, and trinkets. I did the same with my treasured belongings throughout high school, college, and my single years, and ended up with a whopping 27 boxes; one for each year of my life.
After I got married, my mom and I sorted through them, reminiscing and laughing, and realizing that most of what we’d saved no longer seemed important. So I downsized to three boxes and felt accomplished. But then, of course, life happened, and my husband started shuttling his keepsakes up the ladder. And together, as we built memories and started a family, we also accumulated stuff.
I’m currently in the process of going through every single thing we own (again, for the second time in 2015). This involves finally confronting the attic, in a last effort to determine our essentials. And I’m facing the facts:
I won’t use my baby clothes. If my sons have a daughter someday, they won’t want her wearing my 60-year-old jumper.
I don’t need much paraphernalia from my childhood. I can keep a few meaningful things and call it good.
I don’t want my kids reading about my teenage drama. And I don’t need to read an old journal to remember the good times; they’re all in my head.
Banishing decades of mementos from my life is not as heartless as it sounds. I cherish my family and friends, and the memories and relationships I have with them. I’m just changing my attachment to stuff. I’m going to keep one box of (very select) prized possessions, and my husband has agreed to do the same. Now I feel accomplished, knowing that everything in our house is useful and/or meaningful, and that my tangible past will soon be inconspicuous.
One of these Fridays, when we’re not too exhausted to get off the couch and climb that ladder, we’ll bring the IPA’s and bulk peanut butter cups along, and decide what really belongs in those boxes.