"Linds, we need to go through the stuff in your bedroom so that you can tell us what we can throw out so we can finally use it as a guest room."
GULP. "Sure, mom, no problem."
The childhood bedroom. If you are a grown-up and still have one, it probably means that your parents are stable homeowners - lucky you. I did a quick finger count survey of my friends and found that four out of eight have a bedroom intact at the original house where their parents raised them. I didn't get to ten because I don't have that many friends. But ten is such a rounder number than eight, and yes i DO have ten friends... I'll try this again. Names have been changed mostly for my own amusement.
A "yes" means that they have their original bedroom from childhood. A "no" means either that their parents moved since high school graduation or moved frequently to begin with. The choice of people was totally pulled from the weirdness of my brain. Subjects are between 26 and 31 years old.
Meghan - no
April - no
Jay - yes
Katy - no
Ann-Marie - no
Genevieve - yes
Jenn - no
Francois - yes
Thao - no
Liza - yes
Result - 40% still have a room with their crap at their parents house.
OK, so I didn't really mean to say that it's a bad thing if your parents if your parents have moved. Everybody has different situations and blah blah. I don't think owning a home equals success, and i don't necessarily think it's healthy to stay in the same thousand square feet for your whole life. But did you notice how my mom asked me what stuff she could throw out, instead of just demanding that I remove everything? I really can't ever complain about my parents.
The truth is that I don't know where I'm going with this but to say that my mom finally wants me to clean out my old room and I got freaked out because for all that I love to get rid of clutter, I use my room as a storage locker of sorts. If I have a thing that I clearly don't use but want to hold onto for the sentimental value, it goes into the highest shelf in my old closet, where presumably I will... do what with it? I don't even know, smile at the memory and put it out of sight for ten years again? What do people do with their high school yearbooks anyway? Should I just rip the pages out where my friends signed it, then recycle the rest? I didn't particularly like high school. I don't think there will ever be a time when I want to display a big old book with pictures of kids I wasn't friends with playing water polo together. I bet my dad will be so disappointed in me that I don't cherish my yearbooks.
I'll make a list of stuff besides yearbooks that I have on Wallingsford Rd:
So many t-shirts in the closet to which I have an emotional attachment. The shirt that I wore to my first job (Powerstation Games at LB Towne Center!), my souvenir shirt from Madrid with the iconic bull outline, Bolivian beer shirt, obelisk shirt from Buenos Aires, EAP study abroad shirt (why do I keep this one?). If they were super comfy or flattering, I would probably wear them all the time. I save them because I want to try this thing where you boil your shirts in salt water and they turn soft like American Apparel fabric. Maybe I"ll try this weekend.
Oh god, yearbooks from freakin middle school too!
Books. Textbooks from college, poetry on Spanish, dictionaries, lonely planets, favorite novels. This is the hardest to get rid of and I have no idea why. There is not one reason on god's green earth to own a dictionary or a thesaurus, but I swear when my mom asked my to put the books I didn't want in a box, I was like, "...no..."... and political science books on Russia from 2002? I guaranty you I will never idly flip through that someday because it sounds interesting. My hunch is that I keep them because I want to have a grand library someday where I can organize them all by topic. Kind of disturbing that this isn't really day dreaming about reading, but about categorizing. Plus, I have that other dream of having an online bookshop.
Backpack full of letters from friends from middle school to high school. Was that just a fad when you wrote letters to your friends during class? Do kids now, like, email each other in place of that? They probably tweet each other or do something I haven't even heard about yet. Looking back, that seems so damning if you ever write anything that you wouldn't want anyone to know, which was probably every single letter written. Hey m&d, here's my plan to totally disobey you this whole weekend! Also, dear older me, this is the stuff that I actually thought mattered when I was 14. I don't want to look in this backpack AT ALL, but I can't let myself throw it away either. What if it makes a genius script for a book on teenagers in the late nineties?
Box of trinkets and letters from ex boyfriends. How cliche am I? Do people mostly throw those into the fireplace after a few years?
Cast off furniture. A lot of people end up giving me their old stuff, and I take it. I have Meagan's old couch from her marriage, my ex boss' weird yellow french lamps, a wood clock in the shape of a state (not sure which state though), framed pictures I've found in vacant suites at work. It does not go together and none of it is that cool, but I'm like, what if my decor ever calls for frilly yellow lamps?
Photo albums from high school and college. I hope that my parents have never been through these. Oh, who cares at this point.
I need to let go of all of the above, and I need to let go of the idea that I have this storage place forever. I don't think I'll ever end up living at home again, and I haven't a night there in years, so it shouldn't really matter if the space is an extension of me or not. When I go home and go into my room it actually physically feels claustrophobic because of all the unwanted and unused things, so I should probably get rid of the stuff anyway.
An obvious solution is to spend some time (which I do have!) digitizing everything worth caring about - photos, maybe the letters & yearbook notes (but is that just so dumb?), giving away any book I have where the contents are freely on the internet. This is the part where I talk about the digital age I guess. Technology! The Cloud! Hard drives!
Then I could try to make the shirts worth wearing - softening them and cutting them up to make more flattering.
So yeah, that doesn't sound so bad.