Tuesday, 18 September 2012

On moving,mementos and memories

Sometime soon I’ll be moving… My landlords need to sell, and I know I won’t be able to afford a rent increase, which will probably be coming whether they sell or not – or if the new owners don’t mind a sitting tenant.

Which means, sorting stuff out, as I’ll be downsizing from two bedrooms to one. Which raises questions on what to keep, and what can go. Yes, I know there’s a whole heap of rubbish in my place (for those who have seen my desk, just think of that chaos, but over a whole house) which can go. Magazines I don’t need any more. Recipes books that I’ll never use. What about those videos and cassettes that I don't watch / listen to any more?

But, some of these things come with memories.

One of those recipes books was a school prize. Is that memory enough to redeem it? And, those ornaments and trinkets? I inherited some. Some were gifts. Gifts that were thoughtfully chosen, and given with love. Doesn’t that justify their continued existence in my life?

The clothes? The shoes? The handbags? The jewellery? What do I get rid of? The dress my sister made me – the first thing she sewed that wasn’t for work (being a handbag machinist at the time). Or, the jumper my mother knitted me with the special wool we chose together at an out-of-the-way craft shop when I was about 14. Does anyone want my collection of library staff t-shirts?

What about furniture? What if all my furniture doesn’t fit… Can I bear to part with Nana F’s chest of drawers which holds, amongst other things, my present collection. (For family who remember that chest of drawers from Nana’s bedroom, I keep my presents in the same drawer.) Or, the Ann Box – which I acquired at 7ish from my mother, who got it from my uncle’s ex-girlfriend who was emigrating and couldn’t take it with her. (Mind you, there’s someone I’d happily pass it on to – one who has the same spelt Ann in her full name, and is the daughter of said uncle.)

What about those bedside cabinets another uncle passed on to me – again, they’ve been in my bedroom (whichever house I was in) for over 20 years.

I’ll happily part with my computer desk which is currently in pieces in the spare room wardrobe. See, I have a netbook now, which fits in a drawer. Yes!

Then, on the level of ornaments – what about toys? I have toys that were lovingly chosen and given. What do I do with them, now I’m over 40, and most of them have spent the last 3 years in a laundry hamper in the cupboard-under-the-stairs.  So, it’s not like I’m using them or anything…

Artwork? I haven’t been able to hang any artwork in this place – so it’s all been in storage. Do I really need it? What would it matter to my life if I got rid of it? Would I really regret not having the ‘sheepdog protecting lost lamb’ picture that hung in my bedroom since I was about 6? Or the poodle toy I got about the same time, from the same person. Now, these two objects have strong memories for me, since they’ve been in my life for most of it – but the person I got them from was not the nicest person ever. I’d had the things for so long that I couldn’t remember where I got them from, and finding out who gave them to me did change my perspective.  They were from someone I have very, very few fond memories of – but a few bad ones.  (Considering how fragmentary my memory is from this time of my life, that says a lot about her impact. For many years, I wondered if my memories had been formed on others’ memories. I couldn’t remember what she looked like. Then, I saw a photo of her, with me and others in the family. And I had a visceral reaction and almost threw the photo away. Down deep, I remember her. And, maybe those memories I have are just the tip of the iceberg.) Do I keep the picture and toy? They deserve some reward for the 35+ years they’ve been with me. But, being associated with one of the meanest people in my life?

I will say, straight away! – my big bookcases will be staying. There is no way in hell I will get rid of those. They were made for me by my dad, for my 30th birthday. They are non-negotiable. I’d rather downsize my bed, if necessary, to find room for them. But, what about the other bookcases? I’m not emotionally attached to them – but I am attached to the growing collection of books contained in and on (and beside) them.

Books. Yes, when I move, most of my boxes contain books. How do I decide what to keep and what goes? I may never re-read my extensive LM Montgomery collection, but they represent a phase in my life that I remember with fondness. Or the books I studied for my MA. (I was a poor ex-student., and sold my BA books – some of which I had to repurchase years later when I did my MA.) Or my picture book collection. I love them all. There are illustrators I love. Stories that I remember as a child. Authors I’ve discovered as an adult that resonate with me. Then there’s those comfort reads – those I totally justify, as I re-read them regularly. But, what about those I loved once upon a time, but will never re-read? Do I get rid of them, and the memories linked to a specific time of my reading life. (Those Old Skool Romances, I’m looking at you – those ones that had ‘forced seduction’ [ie rape] scenes, were EPICally long, and EPICally historically detailed. Hey, it was the 80s, and I was teenager.)

Now, this is on the understanding that I have already culled my books a couple of times. Yeah, I have acquired more since then. But I looooove them all!

Oh, and then there’s all my craft material. These show my various obsessions and phases of enthusiasm. Yes, I might actually get back to doing some scrapbooking. Oh, and beading. And I will give up my yarn stash over my dead body. (Among knitters/crocheters, I have reached SABLE… Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy – I have more yarn than I will ever use in my lifetime… but I never seem to have the yarn I need for a project, which necessitates another public SEX act [Stash Acquisition eXpedition], or is it a YAQ [Yarn Acquisition Quest]?). Which reminds me, I haven’t measured up my giant Ali Baba basket, which is my main YCZ (Yarn Containment Zone) (my YCZ extends to the basket ON TOP of the giant Ali Baba one, and a small suitcase beside it).

What about kitchen stuff? I bake and all that – but I’m not that great on the entertainment front. And, moving to a one-bedroom house – do you think I’ll be inviting that many people around? Seriously. Me, my cat, and the furniture – with exploding craft stuff and books - will take the whole space up. There will be no room for more than one visitor at a time. Oh, and I’m not that into people visiting, either. I need plenty of warning, the moon to be in the right phase, and offerings made to Athena at the full moon for me to cope with visitors.  Yes, I’ll have visitors – but…

And – what do I do with the stuff I don’t need anymore? That computer desk? I dismantled it about two years ago, but it’s still in storage. I suck at getting rid of stuff. But, if I take the risk, and get rid of things… there will still be things to move. And, what will happen to them when I die? As a childless spinster aunt (doesn’t than sound so ancient! Just think, by the time I die, I will be a childless spinster great-great-aunt), who do I leave things to? Nieces and/or nephews (great nieces and/or great nephews) who will also have a fair amount of stuff in their own rights.

I just have too much stuff. Too much stuff with too many memories attached.


  1. I just discovered you one sock stop patterns and sent you a message via rav...then came to read your blog. You have me curious. Whatever happened? Did you get rid of things....what general catagory? I moved from my home state of Texas to WA state 3 1/2 yrs ago to help my youngest daughter and her fam and then moved to Tyler, Tx when they were trans. back 1 1/2 yrs ago. Moving to I got rid of 1/2 of everything I had because of the cost to rent 2 trucks so we shared one huge one...then coming back....I wasn't going to come, since I really loved Washington but 4 days before the move I decided I should. I have 4 daughters and 9 grands and they all live in TX. By that time the truck was rented. I gave away almost everything. I only had basically what a college student would have and 2 large boxes of keepsakes and I am 62 yrs old. I have given most of the daughters their things but I regret so much of what I gave away. So you have me wondering.

  2. Hi Barbara...

    I haven't moved yet! So, still debating. Sounds so drastic - giving away everything. And, regreting some of it - that's why I'm struggling!


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