“This week, oversized garbage bag in hand, I tackled the closet in my son’s room. When I say “his “room that’s a misnomer. For the little boy who grew up here is now two thousand miles away, a father to his own little boy and girl. Out came a pair of curtains that no longer fit any window in my apartment. So they got tossed – or did they? A week later, they’re still on a chair waiting for me to decide.
“Why have I kept the keyboard of my old computer? My little grandson played with it once when he visited, pretending it was plugged into an imaginary outlet we drew on the wall. Maybe I should keep it for him, except that he has already outgrown such childish play. Toss, keep, recycle? None of the above?
“Yet items such as these are the easier ones. The difficult are those interwoven with my lost youth. Today I make a second foray into that closet. I find a bulging scrapbook, ragged edges poking out. Down it comes from the shelf. Opening the torn cover I see disintegrating pages holding my years as an actress. My “other life,” as people call it. I turn fragile pages, inhaling the dust of decades.
“Photos of scenes from shows. Each bringing back the actor I’d worked with – loved – hated . “This woman was a famous actress who blew up at me between scenes because I was getting laughs she wanted,” I tell my partner. Feeling again my indignation at being berated. Wasn’t I also proud I’d been so good at comedy? (Where is my sense of humor these days??)
“I may not ever look at these again. Too much memory. Chances are that no one else will ever look at this collection either, after my real life demise. My children may or may not be briefly interested in the contents. More likely they’ll be frustrated at having to sort through things their mother wasn’t thoughtful enough to discard.
“Maybe we need a new definition of “clutter.” I’m told it’s anything you haven’t used in five years. A mathematical boundary.
“But what if it momentarily brings back the sweetness of a lost time?
Judi’s Note” After reading her piece I emailed Anne, telling her how much I enjoyed it. “As an outsider interested in this subject, my reaction is that your theater scrapbook etc. should definitely stay. It's part of you and your family may well be interested in it. I wish I had that kind of information about my mother.
The defunct keyboard and the non-fitting curtains. Really?
Theoretically everything we own has some kind of memory attached to it, happy, poignant, or meh. But I think having too many links to the past tends to keep us more held down than we need to be. Just a thought! Judi