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Shoes that hurt when I look at them, are stretched out, out of date or just plain ugly.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