Saturday, May 12, 2007

clean bean

Arriving home in Cape Breton with 11 boxes (shipped via Acadian Lines) and a VW Golf stuffed with everything under the sun from my last apartment, really showed me how true it is that you never know how much stuff you have until it's time to move. And having got rid of half of it before we packed put me in clean-out mode: clean out my closet, clean out my room, clean out the clutter! So now that I'm back in my old bedroom at Mum's house, I'm coming face to face with the detritus of my life, all the things I kept for sentimental reasons, and as Marlo said when speaking about something she was tossing out, "the sentimental reasons don't exist anymore." The sun fades color, and time fades sentiment. Not all of it, but some, enough so that I can make a rational decision of what to keep and what to recycle.

I'm talking about the following: old High School and Junior High notes on Chemistry, Biology and English, that I kept in case I ever wanted to refresh my memory on the law on enthalpy, how chromosomes are reproduced, or the symbolism in Romeo and Juliet. Now that they've gathered enough dust, I see that if I do want to learn about these subjects again, I'd probably consult an up-to-date text written by an expert, rather than my own notes, no matter how meticulously taken. Then there is old makeup, jewellery I'll never wear, clothes that are stained, or ripped, or too small, or too big, or just plain not-my-style. The books I've never read or read enough that it's time to let them go. The CDs that bring me back to Grade 8--a time and a place I certainly do not want to revisit. The bits and scraps of things that meant something at one point, but keeping them now would only mean hauling them from one house to the next for the rest of my adult life, shedding some periodically.

I have an addiction to stuff, mostly due to the misguided belief that it is the only way to keep memories. But as I've learned by almost mercilessly cleaning out my old stuff and giving it to charities, second-hand stores, and libraries, the memories don't go away, they stay in my head and heart, my photographs, and with my friends. Even in my early twenties, I've already forgotten some great stories, even if the token beer bottle, Cranium drawing or shirt covered in marker scrawls remains. So that's why it dosen't matter so much if a lot of the flotsam and jetsam of my 23 years of experience washes out to sea again--I still lived it, I still have my friend's and my stories to remind me, and I'll be a happier bean remembering it all, unencumbered by all the stuff.

Well, mostly unencumbered: it seems, unless you're a diehard minimalist, that there's no way to live completely without stuff. I guess it all comes down to what you keep and what you toss, how you arrange it and how you enjoy it. Find metaphors where you like, I've got to get back to it: my dust rag and stack of boxes calls. Would you believe it's nearly as addictive to get rid of stuff as it is to keep it?

Blog Archive