Goddy recently cleared out our storage unit and brought home several boxes of our life history. I've tried to keep it minimal, but at one time I actually had a box labeled "things we never use but won't throw away." That tells you how wide my sentimental streak is. After six moves in eight years, you'd think I'd have it under control. Having it thinned down to four boxes (in storage) is pretty good. I won't mention the ones happily staying put out in the garage.
This is how it looks part way through the project. It's a mess, there's still so much to go through and my brain is starting to fry. All I want to do at this stage is curl up like Murphy is in her bed and turn my aching back to the whole thing.
It turned out that one of today's boxes is Logan's. The last time it was looked through he lived in a barracks, so we kept it. Not any more. It's all ready to go take up space in his garage. Same thing for Evan's boxes. (They didn't come home this trip, but will be delivered to his home next week. It's a rite of passage when you buy your own place that the parents clear out your stuff.)
Goddy's box was little - a squished up shoebox. It took him about ten minutes to sort through. Mine, well, there were a couple and one had a U-haul label on it, so that tells you what size it was. I woke up this morning determined to get through them all and was going to be ruthless and not get sidetracked. Ha! My diary from 1978 is sitting open beside me as I write...
That's Goddy's wee box on the right. The one in front is full of photos. The things arranged on the big carton sum up my life. There are pictures from the New Zealand farms, memories of happy times there. A photo of Evan and Logan in their boarding school uniforms. My scrapbook from high school. And a rendering of Rockwells "Spooners", given to us before we were married.
There were many photographs to go through, and of course each one had to be looked at. A large pile of toss-outs accumulated, which is a very freeing thing. Especially when you realize there are still several hundred left so you couldn't possibly be throwing out any vital ones.
I get torn every time I go through these boxes, agonizing over which of the photos and keepsakes really have the sentimental value that'll get them repacked. The pile gets smaller each time, making me wonder if future moves will end up erasing our past altogether.
Somehow I don't think so. There will always be some photos that bring a tear or smile or both and have to stay in the collection. Then there's the thrill of discovering a hidden gem, something that takes you back so sharply you forget what moment you're in. Like this set of jacks that I've had since grade school. The ball still bounces, which I'm sure has some sort of life application.
Then there's the amazement of finding that an old piece of clothing still fits...(That's my Campfire Girls ceremonial gown. I keep it around in case I have granddaughters. And to try on every 20 years or so.)
I think about our boys and the lives they're starting with their sweet wives and fiancee. They're living fully, and their future boxes will be proof. Everyone starts their grownup lives with pieces of childhood hidden in the garage or a closet and the things they add to that create a panorama of life. And we all know that life, whether in a box or in reality, needs clearing out occasionally.
Just make sure you have plenty of time, or lots of storage space.