Monday, May 25, 2009

Out of the Past, Into the Closet 2/2009




Outofthecloset I like to clean. There, I said it. I get some weird satisfaction out of cleaning and organizing my house. But it’s more than just an obsession. It’s truly a hobby. When I have the time (read: almost never these days), I feel like getting rid of old stuff is a chance to reinvent myself. Hanging on to things from the past reminds us of who and what we were at given points in time. And while it is nice to have bookmarks of my old selves, when I begin to feel weighed down and the need to lighten the load and move forward, I go through my relics and weed out things that no longer need to have a presence in my life (read: overflowing bins in my garage and closets).

Journeying through souvenirs of my past, I find that although I may be attached to the teddy bear I had when I was seven, my dad brought it home for me from a business trip after all, (read: airport gift shop), I am not as attached to the spin art I made in fourth grade art class. Does this represent the fourth grade me? I didn’t think much of myself back then, so why do I still have this? Perhaps because I am different now and it is a gauge of that difference. I would be embarrassed after all if I hadn’t at least changed somewhat in 31 years. But do I still need a gauge?

With four kidlets (plus hubby), I need to make room for their junk. Thank goodness we don’t have pets. My junk seems so much less important as time goes by. I enjoy looking at old stuff less and less as time goes on, and I don’t feel quite as attached to ‘things’ any longer. Is this a common feeling among all parents? Or do most people just keep stockpiling? Despite the items of which I divest our family through eBay, Craigslist or Goodwill, I find myself starting the trend all over again by saving little tidbits of the kids’ milestones to create mementos for them. But will they like what I have chosen to save? Will they care? When my mother cleaned her garage I received some of my mementos (read: countless hefty bags of REALLY old stuff). I was baffled as to why she would save so many of my third grade math tests, ninth grade art drawings and sixth grade history projects. Not to mention the clay figures and pots (now indistinguishable from unformed lumps of pressed together dust), string art, hair bows and paper Christmas trees.

I remember being there. I remember inscribing “useful pot” on a badly formed jar and lid in summer art class. I remember learning how to make an “Ojo de Dios” at camp. I remember making a travel brochure about New Zealand on large orange construction paper (my first attempt at writing marketing lingo). But sorting through it all I felt no real connection to them. I eagerly dumped it all (mostly) in the trash, ferreting out a few mother’s day cards and fifth grade stories I had written.

Then I went into the house, gingerly placed a bag of ribbons, wrapping paper scraps from my baby shower (a year ago), and some baby clothes that no longer fit the babies into my kids’ closet, and shut the door.

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