Memories stick to everything. A trip down memory lane is only as far away as the back of my closet (and now that I own a house, the back of every closet). I have always been a pack-rat. I broke my Winnie-the-Pooh snow-globe when I was eight or nine. After cleaning up the broken glass and sticky ‘water’ I put the exposed Pooh into a box in my closet. I wouldn’t put it back on the shelf because then my mom would know I had broken it, but I couldn’t put it in the trash either.
Some days I get in a cleaning mood, a purging mood. I dig to the back of the closet, rooting out t-shirts I’ve held onto for a decade because my memory of acquiring it is stronger than my ability to throw it out. Even when I tell myself I’ll donate it to charity, someone else will find use in it, I inevitably stuff it back into the rubbermaid tote it came from and shrug my shoulders to the voice that tells me nostalgia isn’t a good enough reason.
I am in a cleaning mood.
We have too much stuff. My husband even agrees with me, and yet as I pull out his senior year t-shirt (older than mine by the way) and he pulls out my sweatshirt from summer camp 2005 we both shrug, nostalgia winning again. But no. I will not succumb. I have seen Hoarders on TLC. I have seen houses where empty cleaning bottles and great-grandma’s quilts are given equal billing. It scares me. We live in a small, fifties ranch with little storage space and small closets. With the birth of our daughter and the baby paraphernalia piling up it is beginning to feel (well, has been for a while) claustrophobic. I don’t need a bigger house, I need less ‘stuff’.
Letting go of Dory was tough. I felt I was betraying her, driving away in a shiny new Hyundai, named Horatio by the way. Her one remaining hubcap blinking at me in the dark. But she’s still swimming, the voice cries. But for how long? Will she stop swimming while I’m going 60 on the highway with my 3 month old in the back seat? No, Dory had to go. I couldn’t figure out why it was so hard at first; then I realized it was because my parents had given her to me. She was a present. I’ve always had trouble getting rid of gifts. Even when I don’t like them, don’t use them, or break them. They hang around, gathering dust in the back of a closet, in the bottom of a box. I know I’ve gotten better, I throw away broken things now.
So I have finally come to a point where I can forgive my sister for getting rid of my brown pants. I said she could borrow my clothes while I was in England for a year, I did not say she could give them to Goodwill. She claims I gave them to her; I claim they were merely borrowed. Perhaps if she hadn’t done that I’d still have them, not in my drawer waiting to be worn but in a rubbermaid tote in the back of my closet waiting to be thrown out.