The Weight of Memory, the Persistance of Crap


Even though I’ve been saying the same thing for the last couple of years, I think this year it’s for realsies—probably this will be my last Thanksgiving in the home where I grew up. My folks are picking up stakes and moving to Montana. Why? I don’t know, really. They don’t like Texas, and on their extended RV vacation this summer they fell in love with Montana. So hey, why not, you know?

But it will be weird not to have the same house, to sleep in the bedroom I slept in as a kid whenever I come home. And to not have “home” be actually home. I guess I won’t really have a reason to come to San Antonio anymore, which will mean that I’ll lose touch with high school people completely, except for the few that I actually make an effort to see.

That’s life I guess. I certainly wouldn’t want my parents to stay where they are just for nostalgia’s sake. But so this visit I was supposed to go through everything in the house and mark anything I want them to save. I’ve taken almost all the clothes and books and junk from my room that I actually wanted—most of that stuff went with me to college. It’s just weird because I have absolutely no idea what I should want to save.

Apparently, my sister wants them to keep all of our old My Little Ponies and Barbies and dolls and crap in case she has kids. Which I guess makes sense but also are kids really going to want your old stuff? Am I going to regret it if I toss out my old ballet shoes? How about my prom dress? Yearbooks? I have no idea. The fact that I’m ten years out from high school graduation and completely uninterested in looking at any of that stuff makes me think that I should just get rid of it, but still. The only time I ever really thing about high school is when I’m home and around the places I used to go then. If we move and I get rid of all my childhood detritus, will that time just be erased? Will I be unable to access it? And if so, do I even care?

I have warring instincts. On the one hand I’m a total packrat. My whole family is, which is why this move is going to be so painful. We’ll be getting rid of metric tons of crap, the collected knickknacks and doodads and dit dits of twenty-three years of home ownership. And that’s not even counting the furniture!

On the other hand, I share a small-ish one bedroom apartment with another human and two cats. All of our closets are full-to-overflowing. We’re constantly trying to get rid of stuff before it overtakes the place. I really can’t afford to gather any more junk. And also, there’s something so freeing about just throwing away some of the things you’ve carried around with you but don’t really know why. I mean, as much of a hoarder as I am, I would love to be able to just throw everything out and start fresh.
Luckily, I don’t have to bring the stuff I want to keep back to my apartment yet. My parents said they’d be happy to move and store anything I wanted to keep but didn’t have space for. Even so, though, the idea that somewhere in the world are boxes of crap with my name on them is scary.

On the outside chance that I will ever be able to afford a bigger apartment, all the extra space will already be spoken for. And though it would be cool to be able to have some of the furniture I grew up with in my home someday, I feel guilty making my parents haul it all the way to Montana just so that in the tenuous future I might get my shit together enough to rent a car, truck out there, get it, and find a place to put it.
In lots of ways, stuff—even stuff that has meaning and memories attached—is like a millstone around my neck. I hate the idea that as I get older the pile of things that I have to drag through life behind me will get bigger and bigger until I have to buy a house and move to the suburbs just to contain it all. But I also worry that I’ll hit a point where I want to look back and see who signed my yearbook, or reminisce about my prom, or I don’t know, some dumb old person thing like that and I’ll be sad that I got rid of everything.

So the upshot is that I don’t know. I want all of it and none of it. I’m excited for change but I want everything to stay the same. Really the only reasonable solution is to put off the decision ‘till Christmas.