Once treasures, now ‘toast’

As I prepare to change residences (I delayed my move by two weeks since the renovations on my new apartment aren’t completed), I’ve uncovered things I used to think were treasures, but have now summarily sent to the garbage heap:

Mountains of photos that didn’t spark one single fond memory. Why did I take 15 shots of the Coliseum in Rome, 2,000 shots of Edgar looking evil, and dozens of views of my living room? Why did I save a photo of Colby when he was three, sitting with my cousin’s two young sons, whom I’ve seen 4 times in my life?

Every single article I’ve written for a magazine or newspaper, even when I was a stinky writer ( but obviously thought I was Lillian Hellman.) Will anyone, ever, really care about how I advised decorating a studio apartment in the seventies?

Kitchen appliances that I’ve used twice, such as a hot sandwich maker by Salton. I do have one of the original Cuisinart food processors from the seventies, and although it’s the size of a small child, I may continue to save it.  My great great great grandchild can take it to The Antique Road Show when it broadcasts from Mars.

Salton sandwich maker

Ticket stubs from plays I don’t remember, receipts from items I no longer possess, take-out menus from restaurants that went out of business decades ago, letters of praise from former bosses and sympathy cards when my dad died 24 years ago, from colleagues I haven’t seen since.

Shoes that hurt when I look at them, are stretched out, out of date or just plain ugly.

Foreign coins, such as pesetas, lire and francs; match books from unmemorable restaurants; business cards from people I’ve long forgotten and my own business cards from 30 years ago. (maybe Steve Jobs’ first business cards were worth saving; mine aren’t.)

But some things I will never discard, such as select pictures of my children over the years that remind me how precious life is and how fast it flies; handmade cards from my kids that make me smile; my high school diploma, just because; my dad’s cufflinks that remind me of him looking dapper in his dress shirts; letters I typed to my youngest sister when she was doing her doctoral work in Buenos Aires (I don’t have the faintest idea why I have them) because they show me that the way I thought about her 40 years ago is much like I think of her  today; letters my father typed to me when I was having a breakdown as a Syracuse University freshman because they show me the progress I’ve made since I was 17, thank heavens, and the handwritten letter my mother wrote advising me that blood is thicker than water when  I became incommunicado to my family.

I’ve also saved–and am wearing–my mother’s delicate pinky ring. I never much liked it but now I do.  

An artistic photo of my mother's pinky ring on my wrinkly pinky

We don’t really need any of this to remember the things and people, the places and times that shaped our lives. We hold them dear in our minds. But it’s nice to have some physical links to the really special stuff.


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11 Responses to “Once treasures, now ‘toast’”

  1. Karen says:

    Hello Geri, I just discovered your blog through ‘Women’s Voices for Change.’ I look forward to reading your older posts. This is the book that helped me separate trash from treasure and not waste one moment fretting about it. http://empty-nest-expat.blogspot.com/2009/04/happy-blog-birthday-to-me.html

  2. Frankie Dawson says:

    It’s amazing some of the stuff you come across when having a clear out – so many of us hoard junk – but at the time you think that they are worth keeping!

  3. sara says:

    love the ring!

  4. Susan says:

    I have just started cleaning my office space that I have been in for over 10 years. I am doing exactly what you are doing. Pictures of nothing important now, bad hair pictures. cards from family and friends. I find such enpowerment in finally saying to this objects, thanks for your time but I only need a few of you now. It feels great to lighten my life.

    • Geri says:

      Hi Susan, It sure does.

  5. Vera J says:

    Geri, I completely understand! I can seem to get rid of anything!!! What if I were to need that Quark disk from 1998? I mean really! I have paperwork from software and hardware that is long gone and I still can’t seem to trash it.

    I have thread from the 1970’s. Even if I used it would it hold? Doubtful. But the wooden spools are so cute!

    My DIL doesn’t seem to have any problem throwing things away. I am storing an antique cedar chest and handmade (and absolutely beautiful) doll houses her grandmother made that she doesn’t want! My husband doesn’t understand why I care. Because, they are priceless and irreplaceable heirlooms!!! I can only hope my grandchildren will feel the way I do and want them someday.

    If I were to have to move into a smaller place, someone else would have to go through and get rid of the excess. I don’t think I could do it.

    Good luck to you on your move.

    • Geri says:

      Hi Vera,

      What a wonderful comment. So funny. I would save the dollhouses, too. Ditch the Quark disk.


  6. Kate Line Snider says:

    Geri, you’re a “closet” hoarder!

    I think I’d keep the Cuisinart, too. And probably use it! Why don’t you have the magazine articles bound at Staples and save them for your grandchildren? I’d love to read the one about 70’s decor.

    I wish I had kept more of my earlier writings. It is interesting to look back and see who I used to be! I recently ran across an “historical novel” I wrote at age 12. I had completely forgotten about it. I typed it up, illustrated it, and bound it myself by hand. It even has a dust jacket.I plan to show it to my grand-teens when they all come over here Friday morning.Someone may want to inherit it!

    Love the little ring. Enjoy!

    • Geri says:

      OOO Kate, a historical novel at 12. History was one of my worst subjects. Now I love it!
      Glad you like the ring.


  7. sharon Segal says:

    Dear Geri, Love reading your blog. I guess you did not have too many boxes. Hope there is room for all of you in the new apt. Happy Passover to you and David. Love, Sharon

    • Geri says:

      I love that you love reading my blog. Love your comments, too. Happy Passover, my dear Sharon.



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