Ok…these aren’t pictures of my home.  I really wish they were.  Inspired by SO many pictures like these I started cleaning my place.  Cleaning isn’t really the word, purging is more like the word.  It’s day five, about two dozen bags of “stuff” has left my home (for the record my home is a one bedroom apartment).  I can’t even understand where that much stuff came from.  And I still have more to go through.  Half of the stuff under the bed, a large box of who-knows-what-sentimental-JUNK in the back corner of the closet, the hall closet, the suitcases (I almost never pack anything empty, that’s like storing air…not logical).

I was able to toss, recycle, or donate a huge…I mean IMPOSSIBLY huge amount of things that I had kept because they had ‘sentimental value’.  Going back through them I noticed some of those things had negative sentimental value, failed Physics GRE anyone?  Others were associated with events and memories I remember on a regular basis and so have no need for an object to prompt them, others were pleasantly surprising; I had forgotten that I did very well in quantum mechanics class in my second year of undergrad and that I used to write decent prose.  I now commit those facts to memory…well to the collective memory of the internet.  I was able to let go of most of the physical junk that thus far served as my only memory of those events (every shred of coursework from college, a journal I kept in the last year of high school re: college prep).

I also tossed zip disks…anyone remember those? CD-RW’s…photos of basically nothing, all dark, distorted and not even depicting anything discernible.  Why oh why had I saved these things in the first place???  I know that I did so, because there were the old photos and CDs and papers and arcade coins and dozens of movie ticket stubs and and and.

I can’t name ONE specific thing that brought about a violent desire to purge myself of STUFF, but I am grateful, if a bit discouraged by a lack of obvious progress.  Many things have inspired in the last year…year and a half…three years.  Books.  Doing a 365 art project.  More books.  Blogs.  In my recent past I’ve been able to confront and make peace with not only my past memories, good and bad, but also with my process of dealing with them.  The boxes full of movie ticket stubs and blurry dark pictures were a manifestation of my world view: my past was important, but difficult to unpack, process, and keep tidy.  Now by reliving a lot of my past I can experience memories in a controlled, productive way.  Letting go of the bad, cherishing the good, and not feeling any need to keep junk (but distinguishing junk from treasures and things I want to pass on), and yes, keeping some of those movie ticket stubs to put in my collages.

What mementos do you hoard? How do you store them? When do you toss them, if ever?

Spring…scratch that, Life Cleaning

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