Thursday, March 12, 2015

SOLC 2015 Day 12: Too many favorite things

I really enjoyed Virginia's post about naptime a few days ago, and how she rewrote a line of "My Favorite Things" to include her napping habit.  

The tune must have stuck in my head.  There I was in my car yesterday, hurrying from work to pick up teenboy from high school, when my own rewritten line to the song popped up.

"Lifetime of memories tied to my things, 
In piles of clutter my house is drowning..."
(cue waltz music)

Decades ago, I read an article in Psychology Today about military brats.  The study mentioned that we either turn out very well-adjusted due to learning to conform to many different cultures and societal standards, or very neurotic because of the instability of frequent moves and missing parent(s).  I often wonder about where I land on that spectrum. 

It also mentioned that we may become packrats.  This may happen because our stuff becomes our "home", since there is no one place we can refer to as a hometown.  I can't literally take a walk down memory lane like my born-and-bred Cleveland husband, or native-Texan children can, pointing out their schools and favorite restaurants and nearby friends' and relatives' houses.

Nope, my memory lane stretches around the world, from Paris to San Fernando, Fort Hood to Naples, Bangkok to Stuttgart.  Revisiting my childhood would be one expensive plane ticket.

So stuff becomes our history book.  That ticket stub from the strassenbahn.  The geisha doll in a glass case, parquetry from Italy, Lladros from Spain.  Military brat museum displays, taking up square footage and wall space in my home.

Unfortunately, the habit sticks long after the traveling ends.  It's not exactly hoarding, as I'm able to throw away trash, magazines, empty containers, coat hangers--the stuff you see piled up in intervention episodes.  

Instead, mine are the kids' baby blankets I sewed, and their first Harley t-shirts.  The sweater I got in Germany as a teen, in a size this motherly body can no longer squeeze into.  The handwritten cards from my deceased relatives, doll collection from my travels (in boxes, gathering dust), my mother's wedding dress, my husband's christening outfit.  Report cards spanning two decades.  Grandparents' crystal.  College papers from when I felt "smart".  Family heirlooms are precious to me, ties to a past and connections that eluded me when we were traveling, items from my current life that I'm afraid if lost, the memory will be, too.

Spring cleaning will happen next week, and decluttering is a must.  But how does one discard a memory in its physical form?

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