I decided after I graduated from university that I’d move to London and travel around Europe again. Before packing my traveller’s backpack, I remember taking a black permanent marker, and I hesitated for a split second before writing directly on the inside of my backpack my home address and phone number. I figured that will never change, right?
Fast forward to now, 11 years later, and my parents have decided to move and sell this home. I’m currently here in my room, sorting through my childhood, and I feel like I’m on an episode of Storage Hoarders, trying to figure out what’s worth keeping, trashing, selling or giving away.
And I have a lot of stuff. I mean, A LOT. I even went through my stuff 10 years ago and got rid of a lot back then but clearly I seem to have added more stuff to my life.
But unlike the first round, going through my things this time wasn’t overwhelming and a chore but it was actually fun and quite therapeutic. I found concert tickets (kept), my collection Goosebumps books (donated), photos of exes (shredded). I also discovered floppy disks (remember those?), and catalogues from dELiA*s (was sad about the bankruptcy but glad there’s been a relaunch!) and American Girl (Kirsten was officially archived *sniff). I looked through my sporadic academic life – books and notes on psychology and neuroscience to art history and languages. I found all my study abroad stuff such as brochures and notebooks. I remember that’s all I wanted to do in college was to study abroad and even planned out my academic life around it. That moment in my life was just as important as my degrees.
I found my personal statements for both college and graduate school. I went from “I was running away from life…” to “I was reborn…” Hah, so melodramatic!
I found some really out of date things – remember checkbooks and balancing them? My first check I wrote out was to The Sweet Factory. My parents never let me buy candy there so that’s probably the reason it was my first purchase. This proceeded by a payment to my college’s bookstore.
Holy shit I have a lot of stuff.
I also found an enormous amount of letters from my BFF. From 5th to 10th grade we wrote to each other pretty much every day. And during the summer when we didn’t see each other, we continued to write, then gave each other a bag full of letters on our first day back to school (I must admit, there were some summers I procrastinated and wrote a bunch within the week or so before school started). I even found the very last one written to me – we decided not to write to each other anymore because of “summer school, work, and just being too old”. We were 17 years old. I felt like I was holding proof of the end of our innocence. But I also found this fun one:
I found more letters from other people in high school – the days before text messaging, AIM (which is long gone as well), Facebook and other various forms of social media. In the letters to my BFF during elementary school we kept talking about the Contaminators – a term we came up with for a group of boys who always made fun of us. And boy, did we come up with the craziest stories about them! When I came across letters from one of these boys in high school I felt as if I betrayed my 10 year old self, hah. I was also amazed how beautiful everyone’s writing was. After sifting through all these letters, I decided to shred them all. When I was finished, I thought, I could’ve written a story based on all these letters, dammit! But this is about letting go (ugh, did I actually quote that Frozen film?) and moving forward.
With all this stuff I looked at the progression and changes of my interests, my crushes, even my eyeglasses and own handwriting. I found the poem I first recited in front of people – To A Butterfly by William Wordsworth. It was my first taste in spoken word even if it was an assignment for my English class. All I remember was that my performance was utterly horrendous. I still shiver thinking about it.
Yes, I’m a hoarder. But I think it’s good to keep things like these so that I can one day look through them, sort them out, and remind myself how much I’ve progressed which is something that I needed right now. In fact, I’m looking forward to another decade or so of clearing shit out – hopefully at that point there won’t be nearly as much stuff!
I thought the one thing I can rely on was my home. And now that it’s no longer going to be my home, I’m feeling a bit imbalanced. It was the one constant in my ever-changing life. But life’s unpredictable, and I’m going to miss this home. I was really sad when my parents decided to move. I was even sad when they changed their home number so imagine how this is a huge deal for me. But I’m learning to accept it and now that I’ve been to the new house, I’m even excited for them. I can’t be selfish, and I need to let them go on their own adventure and enjoy the next phase of their lives.