One Man’s Trash Is Another Woman’s Magnet

Things I’ve found while cleaning out my bedroom closet (everything in the closet is mine, so I can’t place any of the blame on Stephen):

1. Letters from 1996. Was that really 12 years ago?
2. A magnet that says “Blessed are the caring like you.” Next time I doubt my capacity to care, I’ll just consult this magnet!
3. An envelope of receipts, all of which are from 2004. I used to be incapable of (or perhaps just unwilling to) get rid of receipts for the month until my bank statement came out.
4. All of the letters informing me of how much financial aid I was receiving each year at Union. (They paid me a LOT, people! Praise the Lord for scholarships!)
5. My membership card to the National Beta Club, along with the pin. (I don’t really know what to say about that.)
6. All the cards we received from wedding showers and at our wedding.
7. The program I got from my first Steven Curtis Chapman concert, the Heaven in the Real World Tour. (I also have ticket stubs from two of his other concerts. I’ve seen him 4 times that I can remember. I should write a post about him sometime…)
8. Pens I bought while in Bangkok. (They still write!)
9. Pictures from senior prom. (I sure was skinny!)
10. Most of the papers I wrote in undergrad, along with papers I wrote in grad school. My favorite feedback from a professor? “To be honest, I’m disappointed in this paper.” OUCH. He then proceeded to write me almost 2 pages of ways to improve said paper and encouraged me to revisit it because I have a “good critical mind.” He closed by wishing me “all the best.” How nice. (And really, to be fair, it was a terrible paper on Their Eyes Were Watching God, written during one of my last weeks of grad school. Motivation was low.)
11. My acceptance letter to UT, along with my GRE score.
12. The program from my 8th grade “graduation.” I was the “Class Speaker.” All I remember is that during one of the graduations (there were 3 because the class was too large), I got my index cards out of order and had to improvise. It didn’t go well. But it was 8th grade, so who cares?
13. 4 stacks of Post-its. (longtime readers should know of my love affair with Post-its)
14. 8 scarves. That’s way too many scarves.
15. The name tag I wore during freshman orientation at Union.

I could go on, but why would you care? 15 is a pretty indulgent number as it is. I got rid of most of this stuff, except of course for the Post-its (and the magnet, the papers, the acceptance letter, etc.) Okay, so I got rid of the tapes and half the scarves. I’m a sentimental pack-rat, and it’s very hard for me to let go of things. I have 2 full photo boxes of letters and cards I have received over the years, and if Stephen weren’t around to make me throw silly things away, I would keep them for 10 or 15 more years! (Even so, I kept some of the especially nice cards/letters.)

I’ve been “saving” things for as long as I can remember, much to my mother’s chagrin. She would look at the stack of shoe boxes stuffed with notes and declare my whole closet a fire hazard. Where I am sentimental and reluctant to throw away a birthday card a year after I’ve received it, she glibly tosses hers the day after, even before all the cake is gone! When it comes to my pack-ratting, nothing is off-limits. I used to save all the notes my friends and I would pass in grade school. I saved anything that I felt I might want to remember someday. And truly, my memory is terrible, so sometimes I think all of this collecting isn’t a bad idea. For example, at one point I had all of the ribbons I’d won in field days (I doubt I contributed at all to my team’s wins; my feats of athleticism are limited to walking in a semi-straight line). I finally got rid of them (post-college, I do believe), and now I can’t even remember what we did during field days.

I’m sure a psychologist would love to delve deep into my psyche and unearth my repressed urges in the hopes of determining the root of my pack-ratting, but I’ll wager a few guesses.

1. I confuse the memories with the items themselves. I tell myself that by throwing away a card, I’ll forget about the person who sent it. While in some cases, this may be true (I’m not going to remember every person who ever gave me a card), I’ll cherish the friendships of those who matter to me now, whether I have a card from them or not.

2. Keeping all of these mementos gives me a sense of security and stability. I feel like as long as I have these “anchors” to my past, I’ll be fine. I might need these things someday. For example, what if someday I need to prove that I was indeed a member of the National Beta Club? All I have to do is whip out that membership card, and voila! Case closed.

3. It’s genetic. My dad’s mom is a notorious pack-rat, so much so that she has a storage room as well as 2 bedrooms full of stuff, some of which she doesn’t even know she has. She could have passed this tendency onto me, but I will not cause my pack-ratting to spill over into entire rooms; I’m content to fill a closet.

Hey, I never said I was a logical pack-rat.

2 thoughts on “One Man’s Trash Is Another Woman’s Magnet

  1. 🙂 Being sentimental is nothing to be ashamed of. I go through my rubbermaid box of my LIFE each summer and little by little whittle away tangible pieces of my childhood. It haunts me that this task is yet to be completed again this summer.I have news! I was wandering around the Family Video exactly one week ago looking for something to watch and for some reason you came to mind and so I rented the first season of Gilmore Girls and I am in love. I’ve watched 26 episodes thus far and my goal is to watch as many as they have out on DVD over the summer. I’m calling it a quest. Thank you!


  2. I can understand. I kept a lot of papers and mementos growing up. There were some stuff that I threw away or lost that I still wish I had. It helps me to have that stuff so that my mind can recall those memories. It in my head but sometimes it needs a good prompting


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