Tuesday, June 26, 2012

THROW YOUR LIFE AWAY (Or Just The Parts You Don't Need Anymore)

There’s this steamer trunk I’ve had since middle school. It’s grey and crooked like an old elephant, and it’s covered in an unfortunate sticker hodgepodge representing various phases and causes and foreign countries I may or may not have visited. There are terrifying “meat is murder” PETA ones, a Harley Davidson flag, and a Scottish coat of arms. There’s a Beatles sticker I got in Liverpool, and a Berlin sticker I found in Poughkeepsie. The trunk lives in the back corner of my sun porch. One of the wheels broke off the last time I moved, so one end rests slightly higher than the other. If you set a round object on it, the object will roll. Cylinders, when placed on their sides, will also roll.

Periodically, I open this steamer trunk, and evaluate the contents. There are photos of my grandparents when they were young, my graduation caps from high school and college, concert tickets, museum pamphlets, valentines, and every beer bracelet I’ve ever gotten. Last summer, my boyfriend worked an early morning shift, and I’d wake up to a note or a drawing EVERY SINGLE DAY. They’re all in there. The corsage my best friend from high school (who turned out to be gay) gave me for our first dance is in there. The New York Times from the morning after Obama was elected. My hospital bracelet from the time I almost cut my finger off at Vassar. A headless, shapeless “Nefertiti Statue” I whittled out of clay when I was ten. Basically, it’s all in there.

Today I opened up the trunk for the first time in more than a year. It’s a strange thing to look at your life condensed and so selectively. Like, I hated high school, but it all looks very pleasant in material retrospect.

I’m happy to have most of what’s in my trunk, but during this particular evaluation, I was very much bothered by all of the shiny plastic trophies. We really need to stop rewarding kids for perfect attendance. I went to school with pneumonia more than once for the sake of those darn trophies. MORE THAN ONCE.

Flute trophies, math trophies, history trophies. SO MUCH PLASTIC. I was even “MOST IMPROVED” in my kiddie soccer league, because I learned where on the field I should be standing when I was playing “offence” versus when I was playing “defense”. Annnnnnnnnnnd there was a trophy for it.

So, basically, I am laden with plastic trophies I will never display, and probably (definitely) didn’t deserve. WHY DID I BRING THESE TO GRAD SCHOOL WITH ME? They might be made of plastic, but cumulatively, they are. So. Freaking. Heavy. I should apologize to my stepfather and brother-in-law for bringing these trophies with me to Rochester. They were carried up many stairs.

Picking through my trunk, I suddenly HAD to purge them. I have no idea why it hadn’t occurred to me sooner, but once I started throwing genie-lamp-shaped “BEST CURSIVE WRITER” trophies away, lots of other things fell into the trash bag vortex. Drawings I did of mermaids when I was eight, with their chests covered by mint green clam shells. GONE. An eye patch from the Pirates’ Cove mini golf course in Lake George. GONE. Dry, rotten carnation corsage. GONE (sorry Michael, it was gross). Picture-day pictures from the most awkward years of my life. GONE GONE GONE. Oh, and the beer bracelets.

Holy cannoli, it felt DAMN good to get rid of these things. Why do we hold on to so much STUFF? I’m not even talking about photos. I’m talking about stuff. The horrible little knickknack-y things we can’t stand to throw away but really really REALLY just need to throw away.

Throw that shit away. I highly recommend it.

But neon pink Vassar FannyPack, I AM KEEPING YOU.

No comments:

Post a Comment