June 24, 2006

"Pesto bong?"

Incomprehensible wedding gifts. My prediction, based on personal experience: The day will come when you'll want to sell your oversized residence and go live in a practical smaller space. All that stuff you've got tucked away in your vast storage/display space will go right into trash bags. You'll take one second to decide whether to save or toss each item, and anything you can't understand will be instant garbage, and you'll wonder why you failed to take out the trash for a quarter of a century.

10 comments:

tiggeril said...

Does anyone actually use their waffle iron?

Ricardo said...

Amen! I did this three or four years ago, with the contents of my 20' by 20' storage locker, wherein resided the overflow of thirty years of my life. Hundreds and hundreds of boxes, and piles of stuff. It took me months to weed through all the clothes, books, papers, rugs, wedding gifts (from a marriage no longer there), and assorted junk, but I ended up with maybe 10% of the things remaining as treasured heirlooms. Everything else went to Goodwill, Salvation Army, Big Brothers Big Sisters, or into the dumpster.

I came to the conclusion, however, that holding on to these things for decades was a kind of "storage therapy" in which we honor and hold onto the memories which reside within the possessions, and only give them up when the time is right. It was worth paying for the storage locker for the last decade, and it eventually brought me to the right place.

Everything you're saying is absolutely correct.

Ann Althouse said...

The practice of keeping stuff in storage lockers is even worse. I kept a lot of things because of virtually unlimited storage space in my house. Paying for separate storage.... A lot of folks do it. And for decades??

ignacio said...

All true. Each time I move, I throw away more and more and each individual decision seems practical at the time.

Yet recently, when I was trying to assess my personal life history for whatever reason, I couldn't locate much of the "baggage" which sparks memory... not literally through "smell" in a strict Proustian sense, but perhaps in something akin to psychological "smell" which then sparks dimly-remembered "tastes."

For instance, I can't find even one photo of my first girlfriend. Neither can I locate any of the large-scale drawings I did when thinking I was going to art school. Some of these used to be pinned up on my wall when I shared a house with two friends I no longer know. Nor can I find the diary I kept when I went to New York and stayed at the Chelsea Hotel (and had all kinds of adventures that I could once vividly track day by day).

These pieces of biographical flotsam and jetsam can never be replaced.

Just as well, you may say, with considerable justification. Because who cares?

But remember when some family member used to self-publish a biography of their pioneer or immigrant grandfather and grandmother, creating a document which was of direct interest only to the Johansons or the Ricardos, or the O'Briens, and perhaps only briefly, but at least such documents existed, they were artifacts for some future historian to consult?

Now in so many cases we marry less, divorce more, scarcely procreate, live longer but without leaving much trace of our existence once we're gone. Who were we and why? The sorry traces are on an old DVD which now skips. No original source-material survives. There is not even a grave.

Ricardo said...

You never take the storage locker for decades. You take it for a month, six months, a year. It just turns into decades, when you're not looking.

Ann Althouse said...

Ricardo: Like life itself.

Ignacio: I feel really bad about your losing that diary. That's definitely something that you'd choose to keep, even when making one second decisions. The drawing too. I'll bet you still have the diary, and maybe one day when you're moving and going through everything, you'll find it.

I keep trying to find the negatives from the photographs I took circa 1980. And this poster.

Internet Ronin said...

When my parents moved in 1985, my mom gathered together all of the stuff she saved for us from our childhood (old report cards, class pictures, diplomas, awards, newspaper articles, drawings, etc.) and gave each of us our own box. She gave me another similar box filled with newspapers and magazines covering the Kennedy assassination and Watergate that I had kept.

I carried the boxes around every time I moved. When living in Portland and rummaging around old book stores, I found out the magazines and newspapers were basically worthless as "everyone" had saved them. Besides, my mom had put a ton of borax in the box to keep out silverfish and there was a white residue covering everything.

When I left Portland in 1994, a couple of guys helped me clear out all the junk in the basement. When they asked me what to do with it, I told them to toss out the box with the magazines. It wasn't until 4 or 5 years ago that I discovered that they had thrown out the wrong box. (After a conversation about class sizes, I was planning to check out the class pictures from elementary school to see just how many kids were in each class I attended as I knew my 6th grade class had about 30.)

Despite the fact that I hadn't looked at the stuff since it was passed on to me, it was a sad moment when I realized it was all gone. Knowing it is lost forever is a very different feeling than having it stuffed away somewhere and not being terribly interested in what is inside.

Rick Lee said...

It seems that moving is the only way to really do this. I've tried taking a weekend and really doing some serious weeding out of junk (home and/or photography studio)... but after throwing away 10 or 15 garbage backs full of stuff, the place doesn't really look any different. I moved my studio a couple of years ago and I filled a huge U-Haul truck with junk which I took to the dump (they weigh your truck going in and out) and was told that it was well over a ton. Don't ask me what it all was. I can't answer that.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Shifting back to the incomprehensible gifts: Remember that thread from Christmas day where Pastor Jeff told the story about what his relative said when she got an incomprehensible gift?

Good times.

chuck b. said...

Ann said, "You'll take one second to decide whether to save or toss each item, and anything you can't understand will be instant garbage, and you'll wonder why you failed to take out the trash for a quarter of a century."

I said as much months and months ago. It's in the comments. But you were all, "No, no, I can't! It's too hard!"

Mm-hmm.

Verification word: xyqdot. Well, that's obvious. It's the red-shifted zero order male chromosomal nano-colloid. Duh.