The Detritus of a Life

My days are filled with sorting now. Like most people, much of what I have collected over the years, I don’t use on a daily basis. Coffee mugs or lamps are easy to see the value in. But I’ve gotten advice from friends, as I go through things, that is meant to be helpful and speed up the process. It goes something like this:

‘If you haven’t used it in the last year, pitch it!’ or ‘If you haven’t unsealed the box from the last move, don’t even look at it. You’ve proven you don’t need it and it will take less time and be less painful if you just send it for donation.’

But I can’t not look. Even just a peek. So I’ve been going through every box. Some of them are in the tops of closets or in the garage. The packing tape still firmly affixed. Turns out, their advise was not so straight forward.

Sure, I use the practical things in life, like most people, every day. But the things I couldn’t ever buy. Things I can’t get back, are at the bottom of dented, forgotten boxes. Boxes filled with old batteries and my husbands very weird filing system for every receipt he has ever received, tucking them into one zip lock bag or another – I can not crack his code. But this isn’t the stuff I’m looking to save.

Bottom of the box

The most precious and valuable – priceless, really, can’t be bought. Memories of family trips, complete with old entrance tickets. Mother’s Day cards and homework art assignments exclaiming ‘Why I love my Mom.’ (I kept this one over my desk at work during some tough teenage years). My son, Nicholas’ birth on actual video tape. And our eldest, Ryan’s baseball championship game where he got a hit! Emilie’s ‘Spa Certificate’ for Mother’s day one year, telling me ‘We’re looking forward to seeing you!’ complete with paste on googly eyes – she gave me the pedicure only an 8 year old can. Pictures of my Dad in our house in 2003. And my grandfather on their sheep farm, holding me as a baby.

I found all of these at the bottom of a box I could have pitched out. Complete with loose Post-It notes and pens that don’t work anymore. Like most things, it’s the small things, not the big ones that make up a life.  I heard someone say recently that ‘Time is the only scarce commodity’ and the contents of these boxes are proof that it’s true. I know its taking more time to open every old box, but if I’m to ensure I only take the most important things with us to Spain, it will have been worth it. My suitcases will be filled with something more precious than gold.

3 thoughts on “The Detritus of a Life

    • It’s true. More memories. Our kids have their own lives, scattered across the US, but I will miss them – like I already do. Luckily, we live in a time when Skyp, FaceTime or messaging is so easy. Staying connected to them will not be an issue. Even if I stayed in the US, I wouldn’t be able to turn back the clock. Time marches on…


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