In 2017, I started packing and cleaning it was almost one year before we planned to move. We were ready to say goodbye to the house with the lovely trees and not-so-lovely Fall leaves on the grass. Our endless seasonal battle. Goodbye to a house that was too big for two adults and 2 dogs. Time to downsize or better phrased “Rightsize.” This is a story of keeping our beloved things or the tale: Hoarders of Memories.
Where is this Stuff Coming From?
Twelve months after I started slowly, leisurely packing, you would never know the effort because there was still so much stuff. I secretly wondered if cosmic energy was quickly replenishing my treasures each night. Our friends would sneer and say you and Mitch just can’t throw anything out, and you genuinely have “that much stuff!”
My friend Ruth helped me empty the kitchen cabinets – she made three piles keep, toss, and maybe. The keeps and maybes kept growing. I had a story about every mug – Ruth wasn’t having any of it, and even though I said, “no judging!”, it was a hard promise for her to keep! Ruth would say, “why are you keeping this dish? It has scratches?” and I would weave a convoluted story about how 12 years ago we bought this dish and now I couldn’t possibly get rid of it! Ruth would scoff and start negotiating to toss the next item.
I am not sure who won that day, I secretly hope Ruth did, but the final blow came when my husband Mitch arrived home and protested that each mug and dish in the “maybe” pile had even more meaning!
SHHHH Don’t Tell!
I still believe that we are not collectors of junk but rather hoarders of memories. We did throw out a lot, but I think most would say we did keep a lot too. It’s a daunting task. My son and daughter-in-law may realize one day (sooner if they read this article) that many of the things our son thought were treasures are now waiting in boxes in their basement; secretly smuggled in when I came to watch my grandson.
In June 2018 we thought we would be moving into our new home at the beginning of August; it was now near the end of September. We were living in a temporary situation waiting to close on the house. I asked my husband if he missed any of our “things” that were resting comfortably in storage. He missed one item.
When Mitch was a young boy, his paternal grandfather bought him a small calendar from the 1964 New York World’s Fair. The calendar is about 6 inches tall. Each day Mitch turns the circle towards him, and “voila,” the date changes to the next day. As a habit, perhaps a memory of days gone by, Mitch updates this calendar daily, a 58 year tradition. Once we moved, Mitch realized the calendar was missing. We both hoped that the movers put it in the drawer of his dresser to be found when we eventually moved into our new home. The Calendar is the only item that Mitch misses. For me, it’s the lack of wall photos.
It’s been an exciting journey with our so-called treasures. Mitch and I sometimes admit that we would be OK with leaving everything in storage. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” replaced with, “out of sight, out of mind.” I knew when we relocated into our new home and reunited with all our boxes, things would change. I would become reacquainted with my treasures and once again justify the need for each item or try to pawn it off on our kids. But for right now, it’s kind of nice to disconnect from all the things that clutter our world.
It’s 2022 and close to 3.5 years in our new home. I have one box in the basement that is labeled “if not opened by 2022, I have permission to throw out the box.” It was a negotiation tactic with mitch, and I wonder if I will have the guts to toss the box.
Our late cousin, Amy, once put “belongings” in perspective for me. As I walked into her home, looking at the numerous photos on her walls, I asked if it felt cluttered to her. I also had pictures on the walls at that time and was told there was too much stuff. She said, when I look at my photos,” I feel happy, and why would I want to change that.”
I recently solved the photo problem; a new frame called Skylight Plus has all my photos in one place. The grandchildren, especially my 2-year-old- granddaughter, Noa, are mesmerized by the frame. She swipes left to see a repeat photo and swipes right, looking for a picture of herself and her family. We spend time talking about family, and I try to explain that a photo of her great-grandpa Monroe is my daddy. She’s not there yet…. Especially when she doesn’t even recognize her Nana in the photo.
Our clock collection is multiplying, and last week, I took Noa on a tour of clocks in our home. After this tour, we were both ready for a nap! She especially loved the cuckoo and quail cuckoo. And now, when she comes over, we start our day saying hello to the cuckoos – there’s a funny line in there somewhere, but I will let it pass.
(funny note – I grew up with a myriad of antique working regulator-type clocks on our den wall. New friends who visited our home in Westbury, NY were unable to tune out the ticking, tocking, and chimes. Our family was immune to the background noise)
I am OK with Hoarding Memories. I don’t foresee a TV show called Memory Hoarder where my kids come to our house with professionals and systematically remove all photos and clocks. But hey, you never know….
PS- I found Mitch’s calendar! It was almost 1 year later – and Yes, Mitch flipped the calendar almost 365 times to get to the correct date – The project took several days to complete.
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