I’m hopeless. Not in all respects, but on the matter of keeping stuff I’m bad. Really bad.
My intentions are so good, but somehow I seem to be attached to stuff. I’m in the middle of cleaning out my tiny office. Books and photos, files from many, many projects and boxes of mementos are overflowing into the hall. I could hardly find a place to put the big bowl of rocks I’ve collected during my travels. Or my vase of shells I’ve collected for years. I think you see the problem here.
I should be able to grab old files and just throw them away. But nooooo. I have to look at every piece of paper and spend time reminiscing. I have my first teaching contract and that was in 1970. I have every report card from elementary school, but that’s my mom’s fault. Actually I think this is all her fault because she gave me what I call the keepsake gene.
This is time consuming, but it is fun to see the school photos of my friends’ kids. Of course they’re grown now with children and maybe grandchildren of their own. And I keep the programs from funerals. When I look through them I have a little moment of remembrance. I have a big box of thank you notes I’ve received. They’re so nice. I found lists of what I’ve bought people for Christmas for the past 13 years. Wouldn’t want to repeat a gift, right? And why have I saved hundreds of business cards from people I don’t know? Those I can get rid of.
All the books written on the subject of getting organized and purging say to toss anything that doesn’t bring you joy. Well what if way too much stuff brings you joy? I have artwork from my three granddaughters, notes and pictures of Girl Power groups from the past dozen years and greeting cards. I won’t tell you how many.
I have filled two leaf bags with stuff (okay, trash) and my husband keeps peeking in here with sort of a bewildered look. It doesn’t look like it yet, but I am making progress. I would make a bet, however, that I have more ballpoint pens than I could use if I never got another one for the rest of my life.
For me this is just as difficult getting rid of clothes. I always think I might wear this or that again someday. No, I won’t. If I haven’t worn it in five years, what makes me think I’ll pull it out and claim this is just what I needed for this event? But wait! What if I got that dress that will never fit again on a wonderful trip? That makes it a souvenir, which means I get to keep it.
I love books and if I enjoy reading one, I put it in my little permanent collection that isn’t so little anymore. Yes, I even have a set of encyclopedias. My dad bought us those when I was in third grade and I felt like he’d bought us a library. He and I used to sit on the couch and each open one up at random and read to each other. They’re in the bookcase my brother made in shop class in junior high. I no longer have my brother or my dad, so of course I can’t part with the books or the bookcase.
My always kind, helpful sister-in-law is one of the best people I know, but she’s also the least sentimental person I know. She would have this place cleared out in no time. I won’t let her help.
Since I could barely get to my chair in this room to write this, I’d better get busy sorting. I’m going to do better about saving things. Rather NOT saving things. In the meantime, if you want a sack from the gift shop at the castle where Downtown Abby was filmed, a ballpoint pen or a bunch of scratch pads, I’ve got you covered.
Reach Bonnie Bing at email@example.com