“Take care of all your memories, for you cannot relive them.” ~ Bob Dylan
While writing an essay for an online submission, I started to think about all of the stuff that we accumulate. All of the things that we attach memories to, wondering why?
When we were preparing to move from Pennsylvania to Missouri, I had spent several weeks sorting through our attic, in hopes of reducing our boxes of stuff by having a yard sale. A task I am certain anyone with first-hand attic experience would avoid during the hot summer months. For those fortunate enough to have never experienced this joy, attics have a tendency to become hotter than you-know-where in the summer!. In addition to being hot, the attic is dirty! Hot. Dirty. Tired. Cranky.
The task was daunting for two reasons, nothing was organized AND the majority (and I mean over 75% of it) consisted of items collected over the course of my husband’s first marriage. A marriage that lasted for 22 years. As you can imagine, that is a lot of stuff. Aside from a few totes of seasonal décor and winter clothing, most of the boxes were there before me.
Like most people do when exiting a failed relationship, myself included, we sort through and take what we want from the main living areas. We divide the valuables, the furniture, the dishes, the finances and then off we go. The contents of the poor attic become forgotten memories as we move on with our lives, leaving the mess behind for someone else to clean up! Come to think of it, the same can be said of broken hearts as well! (A HUGE shout out to The Hubs for cleaning up my discarded broken heart!) That being said, when I began tackling the piles of forgotten memories, I tried not to think about the awkwardness of going through the ex’s belongings, but instead tried to focus on the fact that she was a person and these were her memories, things that at one time had value and meaning in her life.
The boxes weren’t all filled with her discarded clothing and accessories. Instead, the majority of the boxes were filled with things like tiny little shoes that at one time were on the feet of my step-son. There were boxes of books that at one time were used by my husband when he read to his (now adult) daughter at bedtime. There were boxes of toys that the younger versions of my step children spent hours of their days playing. There were photos of days gone by, memories of happier times, moments that shaped this man that I love and his children into who they are today. What kind of horrible monster would I be if I were resentful of those precious memories? So, with as much love and kindness as I could muster, I organized those memories into a corner of the attic so that someday, they could be returned to her. She may never know, or appreciate for that matter, the care that was taken with her things, but I’ve decided that that is okay. I am grateful for the task of sorting through their memories, as it allowed a glimpse into a part of their past that I will never hold as a first-hand memory, but a memory just the same.
That being said, I don’t know about y’all, but I hate “stuff”!! I will never understand the mentality of someone who keeps or hoards everything. When it comes to “stuff”, I have zero attachment. I will never understand why we feel like we need to hang onto cards! Not just a few special cards from that special someone, like ALL of the cards ever received from every birthday, anniversary or other milestone. Do we think that in twenty years we are going to be living life and think “oh let’s go into the Wayback Machine and look at all of the birthday cards I have collected over the years”? I think it’s safe to say that we are never, for no reason at all, going to pull out the stack of greeting cards that we have been collecting, and yet, so many of us save them! And not only do we save them for ourselves, but we save them for our children and then the cycle continues!! Now, I’m not saying that I don’t have any special cards that I have been given by my hubby or handmade cards from my kiddo…because I do! But, it’s not just cards, we hang on to books we will only read once, clothes that we no longer wear, kitchen gadgets we haven’t used in years (but maybe I might want to make a sno-cone again someday), gadgets that no longer work, and the list goes on and on! The other thing I struggle with are those family “heirlooms”, like Uncle Johnny’s favorite old clock. I hope this doesn’t sound cruel, but it genuinely stresses me out when someone gives me something because it belonged to a loved one!! I do have a few items that belonged to my grandparents that are useful and being used in my home, like a rocking chair and a quilt. What I’m talking about are the things that you can’t use, or the tchotchke’s that just end up sitting around collecting dust. My memories of my loved ones aren’t tied to objects, so it may seem heartless that I don’t want to hang onto things “just because”, but it definitely eliminates clutter…which makes my soul happy!
I choose to collect memories, not things!
Until Next Time: Peace, Love & Adventure