My husband and I have embarked on a little “house-refreshing.” We’re not really remodeling anything, just sprucing up after 20-odd years of life well-lived in a nearly 100-year-old house—kind of like using face-lift tape to smooth out the wrinkles instead of going under the knife.
In the process of painting rooms and airing out closets, I’ve also had to confront another aspect of longtime inhabitance: the accumulation of stuff.
Other than writing this column and enjoying the limited (yet welcome) local celebrity that sometimes accompanies that role, I think my chances of becoming famous and having a museum dedicated to my life are slim and, yet, I’ve been collecting, and hauling (across the country twice!), enough detritus for the past 56 years to fill a Presidential library.
As I go about my everyday life, it’s easy to forget that there, under the bed, in a Rubbermaid storage container, is the transistor radio I won in a church raffle in 1966 and my autograph book from junior high (containing compliments such as, “You made a great Little Red-Haired Girl in the Charlie Brown play”).
In a near-out-of-body experience, as I knelt before the box of mementos, I asked myself, “Why are you hanging onto this stuff?!”
And yet, I know…I attach sentimental value to almost everything—I can barely throw away a fortune from a cookie (I have an idea about decoupaging them all on a table top—clever, right?) Inside the box, I also found a plastic hobo hat that I wore for Halloween when I was four. As I started to move it into the discard pile, I could hear my dad’s voice, “That’s probably worth some money today!” That’s what happens when you watch too many episode of Antiques Roadshow.
In a garment bag, which probably hasn’t been opened in 15 years, I found a two-piece suit that looked like something Melanie Griffith wore in Working Girl, the 1988 saga of shoulder pads and high hair. I’m pretty sure I’m never going to be a “junior executive” again, seeing as how I’m just around the corner from becoming a senior citizen.
And then there’s all the stuff I’ve saved from my children—artwork, essays, commendations! And select very cute outfits they wore, and the smallest pair of cowboy boots you’ve ever seen. And, I have a hunch that box of McDonald’s Happy Meal toys is going to be worth something, someday (thanks for that gene, Dad).
I tried to cull and edit and, yes, there will be a garage sale. Do you need a cassette player, or a red and white cheerleading sweater from a junior high—Eva D. Edwards– that is now the site of a condo development?) But most of it I just put back in the box, or the garment bag.
Someday my kids might be quite humored to open these and find that their mom once twirled a baton (not very well), and played the organ (by numbers) and wrote impassioned poetry about butterflies and sisters (they’re fine and something about them shines). It’s the museum of me and from time-to-time I still like to visit it.