There are occasional flashes of insight which while revealing are less than pleasant to accept. Many of us are masters of avoidance and I think I have honestly acquired advanced degrees. And sometimes it is the mundane, ordinary tasks of living that trigger off the thought process which might have been more pleasant left unexplored.
I am doing laundry; one of those repetitive tasks requiring minimal intelligence, perseverance and a tolerance for repetitiveness. To be up front, our laundry room has become the depository for the odd bit of clothing, unmatched sock and those things which various members of the family don’t recognize as owning. The result is the floor is somewhat akin to the stream where fishermen keep throwing back their catch in hopes of hooking something legal to keep or at least big enough to eat.
There are unmatched sock, ragged towels, boxer shorts, a couple of t-shirts missing for months and other detritus common to people who have both some money and closet space.
Picking up a couple of the items intending to toss them out, I froze. The sock had been kicking around the room for years but I remembered it on the foot of my youngest dancing out the door on the way to school. Those pink boxers? They survived 15 months of Camp Doha washing machines with the cotton becoming softer and the colors fading in the summer hot water.
Stuff for me is memories. I have never particularly thought of my self as a horder. After all, we can walk through the house, I toss items, donate things and otherwise recycle on a regular basis. That which comes (we will ignore the post office for the moment) are consumables, clothing/shoes, media of all kinds and craft supplies. Considering that we have been in this house since 2001, we are not doing all that badly. There are still empty cupboards, space in the attic and space to walk.
But not everything I have is still being used. Not counting yarn/fabric/fiber which comprise the largest amount of future stores/stash, the rest of what I have, faded and used as it may be is my living memory bank.
Handling a worn object, picking up a previously read book brings back memories. The item becomes a physical trigger on a window to what was. Some items are large – like the printer which has been sitting in George’s office since I returned from the UK in fall of 2010. Others as small – pamphlets, patterns, fabric pieces, 15 gms of sock yarn carefully balled up. There is the pile of sweaters and shawls which I am committed to finding new homes.
In the back hall are three boxes of various school books and papers. All three youngest are gone off to University. There is absolutely no reason to hang onto any of it. Six boxes have become three. I keep promising myself that the textbooks can go – finding a new home or landing on the free-cycle swap shelf will a swage by guilt at not knowing what to do with books never mind that some/most are probably outdated.
If I let things go, will I also be letting go of the memories? Alzheimers runs wide and deep from my mother’s side of the family. Perhaps it is why I cling so ferociously to things which have no use but emotional context. By keeping them I both ground myself in the present and review the past. It also occurred to me that some of these fears may lie underneath my lack of interest in permanently moving back to the states. It is not the closing of a chapter of my life – it is shutting the door on the daily reminders of my past.
Of course, none of this explains (other than the reminder that I spent more than enough money at Ally-Pally) why I need almost a dozen 3.00 mm circular needles of various materials and lengths. I don’t think that is hoarding – just simple greed.