I set a few goals for myself this past Memorial Day weekend, including: spend time with myself, finish the “unputdownable” (and I use that in a tongue-in-cheek way – have you noticed the upswing of use of this term in publishing lately? I think it’s rediculous, personally) book I started, clean up the apartment, go to the park and throw the frisbee around.And, perhaps most importantly: to go through the boxes underneath my bed.
My bed is up on risers, partly, I admit, because I like higher beds (better angles that way) but also partly because in my former three-hundred-square-foot-apartment-with-no-closets, I needed storage space. So when I moved in, much of those boxes that I didn’t have time or space or appropriate fixtures to unpack ended up shoved under the bed. Some of them, like boxes of old journals and boxes of photographs, will probably stay down there, or stay in ‘storage’ in general, but others I knew I needed to go through.
This is what I found:
Two boxes of clothes, including three sarongs, sarong pants, two Ani Difranco tee shirts, four spaghetti-strap tank tops with things like “cunt” and “fruit” on them, two Alix Olsen tee shirts, my letter sweater from high school, a sweatshirt from my pre-school (that was a gift after I left home, not from when I was actually in pre-school), and the blue “diesel dyke” jacket I used to wear nearly every day
A small shoebox of stuffed animals, small ones, that I’ve collected or been given over the years
Two boxes of CDs. This is a problem, actually, because I don’t have any CD storage unit anymore, and I’m not really sure what to do with the hundreds of CDs I have. I should probably go through them and rip them into digital music and get rid of them, at least half of them or so, the ones that I don’t really care to have, but my desktop computer is on its last legs, and needs a serious upgrade, so that has to happen first.
Hats – five baseball caps, one cowboy hat, one top hat from halloween years ago. I don’t really wear hats.
Two boxes of electronic chords and gadgets, including two (dead, I think) CD players, a landline phone (will I ever need one of those again?), CAT cabling, various power chords for who-knows-what devices …
Three shoe-boxes, what I tend to refer to as “memory boxes,” containing things like ticket stubs for concerts, movies, and plays; birthday cards and letters; notes from friends and lovers; notes-to-myself scraps of paper when I didn’t have my journal with me, likely scribbled at concerts, at museums, or bars; photographs; nametags or laminated passes for when I was a volunteer for theatre or film festivals … you get the idea. All sorts of scrapbook-type bits of paper, things I wanted to remember that I did.
Why do I save these things?, I asked myself. Partly, it’s for exactly this experience of going through them, remembering those fun events and moments of my life that were significant. I consolidated those three shoeboxes of memories into one larger hat-box sized box, and it overflowed a little, so I went through some of it, throwing enough of it away that it would fit. I’m kind of sad to throw them away, actually, because that act of going through the box is exactly the reason to keep it. But will that stuff ever be of value to anyone but me? Does that matter? I’m not much of a scrapbooker, but I suppose I could be, or perhaps I should be, if I want to keep all of this … stuff. Is that necessary, though? Do I need to keep my ticketstub for Ocean’s 11 and Border/Clash and Ami Lagendre’s dance performance from 2002? If I can’t remember that I went, were they really all that significant?I also ran into all kinds of notes from past loves, really sweet cards and thoughts and moments from those relationships. Why do I hold on to those things? Do I really want to go back to them, relive them later? I only feel sad, they make me ache a little. Do they really have a purpose, is there a need for them in my life? I’m not sure. I can’t really think of why I might need them. But somehow, I can’t quite let go of them either.
My impulse is to organize all this data, take the fragments and put them chronologically into a book, a scrapbook, and construct a life from them. I guess that’s what I always thought I’d do with them. But do I really want to spend time doing that? Obsessing over and organizing my past? What would that really do? I’d end up with a book, a creative scrapbook of some of the things in my life that mattered. Who would look at it, besides me? Would I even look at it?
I took some of the boxes down from the shelf in my closet, too. There is still more work to do with the boxes under my bed, but I compiled a few boxes, sorted through half the clothes, have two boxes now to give away or donate (if I can ever figure out how to do that here in Brooklyn).