Monday, October 14, 2013


My mom and me at the Oregon State Capitol, 1965?

 Woohoo at 6, Rojo at 4*

On Thursday when I turned on the hot water, it came out scalding. In the shower I had to adjust the mixer knob thingy almost to cold, to keep myself from being burned to death. I asked STM to please adjust the temperature on the hot water tank, and he assured me he'd get right on it that evening.

Friday morning the "hot" wouldn't get past luke warm, so I very gently "suggested" STM re-adjust the hot water tank again, more to my liking. He confessed he'd forgotten to ever adjust it in the first place, and what was actually happening, was our ancient tank had gone tits up.

Not to worry, he had a guy come out and drain the old tank, and a new one was put into place. That was the easy part. What was hard about the whole thing was hauling all the crap away from the old tank, and making room for a new one to get dragged into a room with barely a breath of space between boxes of junk.

It was mortifying, actually, to have another living soul in our basement, a testament to our ways. "It's almost like hoarding down there," STM said.

"Care will get it," I answered.

To be perfectly clear, Care has "gotten" it any number of times in the past. The place fills up, Care clears it out, and somehow it mysteriously fills up again. For some reason, we're storing a bunch of stuff for someone I've only met once - a friend of Woohoo's. That's the easiest to identify and ship off to its rightful owner. Much of the other stuff is pretty cut and dry, too. Useless junk is useless junk. It's the sentimental stuff I can't part with, and by "sentimental" I mean teaching units I worked hard at creating, never mind that they haven't been used in over 14 years and are antiquated. I have a million pictures of every kid I ever taught. I rifled through a big stack of them today, and it was amazing how both their first and last names came back to me, even after 25 years.

I found old journals, brutal to read, yet I can't seem to toss them. I don't have all the kids' old toys and clothes, but I have their/my favorites. I have nearly all their books, and many from my own childhood, too. Heavy tote after heavy tote of books we never look at. What am I saving them for? Grandchildren? Am I going to open my own damn preschool?

I found three jigsaw puzzles that have never even been opened, and several that have only been put together once. Games, games and more games. VHS and DVDs. Will there ever be a point in time that we'll want to watch another Olsen Twins video on VHS? And if so, what's the matter with us?

Want to see printed drafts of a book I never published, and never will, so help me God? Got 'em!

How about components to old TVs and stereos we no longer own? Check!

Two million decorations for every holiday known to man? A few party hats and matching plates/napkins from birthdays gone by? Got all that, too!

The goal is to divide the hoarding mess in half, and be able to quickly find everything, should we ever "need" it. I'm guessing I have at least three carloads of stuff already, that needs to go to Goodwill, and I'm far from done.

I know that what I'll feel is relief, when the stuff is gone. I know I won't miss it. I know that when I go down there and can actually walk, I'll feel great - lighter, more able to breath, free of the past and all the stickiness that goes with it. Let me say it again - reading the old journals is so brutal, why would I put myself through ever having them around to read again, by me, and God forbid, someone else? I guess it's the hours and hours and hours that went into writing them that feels "wasted."

Woohoo is home for Fall Break and I made her go down there for two hours with me today. She made a nice dent in her own corner of the basement. All her old teeth that I so carefully kept for her? Gone in an instant. She was a little too quick to part with old photos, I'll have to save those for the next go-round in a few years. She was great about shedding a lot, though, and admitted, it's much easier to part with stuff you've acquired recently, than anything you've held onto for a long time.

And there it is, isn't? The longer we've held onto something, anything, an emotion, a grudge, a memory, a burden, a thing, a person, the harder it is to let go of.

* I pulled these pictures off of an old poster board from when Wil was in 1st grade and Star-of-the-Week

1 comment: said...

Care of 1965 is too precious I can't take it.

As for the clutter. When in doubt, toss it out. You'll never miss it.