All my stuff

December 2, 2008 at 5:26 pm (past)

I watched an acquaintance gift the scarf she was wearing to a co-worker who admired it today. It was a charming gesture, one that reminded me most of my grandmother (around whom I always had to be careful with the compliments lest I find some bauble thrust upon me), but it also reminded me that not everyone attaches memories to things. I do. And over Thanksgiving I got to see just how much I do.

When my parents moved out of the house they had lived in for nearly 30 years – the house I grew up in (and, to be terribly dramatic, the only home I’d ever known) – they came to a not-so-startling realization. They had a lot of stuff. They carefully boxed and moved it all into the new, much smaller home they’d gutted and rebuilt from the inside out, but not everything made the cut. Some things were tossed, many, many things were donated, and some ended up languishing in purgatory storage. I knew how hard it was for them to get through it all and didn’t begrudge them their hail mary storage unit, but three plus years later I was tired of hearing, “I think it’s in storage” when I asked about something from the old house. I put my foot down this past summer: we’d tackle the unit over Thanksgiving no matter how bad the weather or how good the Black Friday sales.

Sure enough, Saturday morning found my mother and I in work clothes and chest deep in boxes. Going through clothes (I think I had a sweatshirt from every college I ever visited), and costumes (ooooh, my pointe trio!), and photo albums (despite my strict instructions that photographs should be kept in a secure, pest-free location at 68°F. / 20 C. (±5°) and 50% relative humidity (±5%)) was like traveling back in time.
Not everyone shares my affinity for most things old. Not everyone remembers the pink sweater she wore with navy leggings to demonstrate pointe shoes in her mother’s classroom. Not everyone remembers the ankle strap pumps that came with Working Woman Barbie. Not everyone would have a downright great time spending two hours with their mother amidst spiderwebs and 20-year-old fleece. But I did.
I think we should wait three years then go through it all again. Also, I never want to get rid of anything. Ever.
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2 Comments

  1. Nilsa said,

    So very interesting! So, you’re going to be the pack-rat that your children will grow to hate? (I kid, sorta). I’m on the far opposite end of the spectrum. I care very little about stuff. When my grandmother passed away and we were divvying up her stuff, I passed on almost everything. I agreed to take my grandfather’s photography books. And a couple pieces of jewelry. But, that’s it. And with my own stuff? Each year, I pretty much throw out/donate whatever I didn’t use in the past year. The only thing I’m sentimental about is pictures … that’s all I need.

  2. BS said,

    One note in my professional capacity: store those pictures correctly if you want them to last! No extreme heat, cold, humidity or Chicago winter dryness. Museum girl rant over.

    Now, as for all the stuff? I’m sure I’ll annoy the shit out of my kids (if I have kids), but the older generations of my family love it. I take the 80s Stuart Weitzmans and 60s black silk swing coats and antique desks off their hands when their daughters and sons won’t.

    Hm, liking old stuff is probably why I work in a museum. Believe it or not, I just realized that.

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