Unearthing our childhoods was both painful and revealing, with a little pinch of hilarious nostalgia. But if clutter represents indecision, and I think it does, we have been indecisive about some interesting things in our lives.
I love this tiny man-statue from a spelling bee. It was a big deal when I was kid. I dressed up and wore my favorite gaucho pants! I loved the denim notebook I had very carefully logoed with Ramones, Kiss and the like. (I photographed it and then tossed it. There’s love, and there’s insanity, and the wisdom to know the difference when deciding to keep stuff). I photographed other trophies and the like, then got rid of them.
My husband unearthed his beloved copy of Unix for Luddites, along with old Clash and Dickies t-shirts circa 1978. The book stayed, the ripped up shirts were photographed with their owner and tossed in the heap.
What I did not love: Unearthing assorted junk, including the cake-toppers my mother saved from EVERY birthday (but whose feet were cloaked in hardened frosting. The child covets these now). Revisiting old schoolwork, particularly writings from college, though I did find one good piece in the stack. Discovering I still have my enlarger, in pieces, meticulously packed away in the shed. Forehead slap.
I find this latter sort of thing very difficult, because these are the sort of thing you cannot just throw away, and find a place to sell them is difficult, including Craigslist. I don’t want a fortune for them, but I do want them gone. Still working on this bit.
I found the enterprise depressing when I realized how much I had drawn and photographed and written in my past, and how little of that I am doing now. Leaving creativity in the past, as the domain of childhood, is a huge mistake.
Which doesn’t mean you need to keep the results of those earlier efforts forever.
When the trashcan was full of this sort of stuff, and the recycling can was full of our old papers from college and ahem, before, we stopped. For now.
On the same day, I happened to peek at Craigslist for a sewing table, having seen nothing of interest in months. While covered in dirt I discovered the perfect table for $20. Off we went. My daughter got my little desk, I got a new sewing table, and her little table will be making an exit.
There’s one good thing to come from cleaning out: It makes you think a LOT about acquiring new things you’ll have to manage later. A lot.
It also made me rethink my creative pursuits. I have been taking at least one photo a day (now that digital storage has made those pursuits incredibly manageable) and sewing one or another useful thing as often as possible as practice. A crossbody bag for the kid, a hat for me, a quilt for the house is in the works…when I run out of useful things for around here, I will make other people the recipients of hankies or whatever other nonsense comes into my head…