One of the unspoken agreements between my parents and I when I moved back in was, I think, that I could live here rent free as long as when I moved out I did something about the gov't grade storage mess I have upstairs in the attic. To give you a picture of what a disaster zone it is up there, let me just say that for each time I have moved, I've put at least one box - usually more - in the attic --
The time we moved from one NJ house to another. The time I moved from Indiana to England. The time I redid my room after coming home from Michigan last summer. When I came back from camp. And the time I moved from Michigan back home. Those are the ones I remember. I have more stuff in the attic than I do in my room.
This weekend I started - not finished, just started - the long, arduous process of making that mess disappear. Or at least get it better organized. Going through boxes, redistributing, marking what's in each and, come July, where each should be. Still in the attic, in Michigan with me in my sublease, in Michigan in storage until I get my apartment in the fall. This is actually really difficult to do, not only because my thrifty family has instilled in me a gag-reflex to throwing out anything I might one day need or use, but because of the number of things that held sentimental value.
I'm a sentimental person. That doesn't really surprise anyone, does it? I went through boxes and boxes of things that held incredible importance for me at one time or another. I found my childhood jewelry box with a set of costume jewelry rings from Lord and Taylor that can only fit on my pinky now but were probably my most valued possession when I was eight. I have a box for high school yearbooks and awards and stories. Letters I received from when I was involved in the Adopt a Soldier project. Letters I never sent. A whole box of CDs (those I threw out pretty easily. Especially since mostly they were just empty cases of albums already on my computer). Fliers from the short film I was in at Michigan. The tiara I wore to the Winter Banquet my sophomore year in high school. My Miss America sash from England. The gnome air freshener my friend from camp sent me. Books, pictures, and boxes and boxes and boxes of notebooks. I'm starting to believe that I was never more prolific than I was between the ages of twelve and nineteen.
What to do with all this stuff?
"Digitize," my brother said. Except that doesn't work with most 3D objects.
I threw away a lot of it. Relatively. I mean, no matter what sort of emotional value it has, what good is it if it's going to spend most of its time in a box in the attic? Still, it was crazy difficult throwing some things away, even if they were as insubstantial as a piece of paper. I'm not the sum of my stuff, but my things certainly come from a part of me.
And it was overwhelming. But it was also sort of cool. Because I've lived a lot of places, and I've met a lot of people. And it's true that not all of those people are still in my life, but it's also true that I've been doused in an insane amount of love.
I threw out those magazines I discovered with interviews with Hayden Christensen. He's still hot, but they're about a decade old and they made me feel like a creep.