Dear Jasper and Kestrel,
My adult years have been a long and changing relationship with stuff.
In 1974, when I moved out of my parent’s house to live in a tiny apartment near California Sate University at Long Beach, I took a twin bed, a box of hand-me-down kitchen utensils, the stereo I had gotten for my sixteenth birthday, a box of books and some records, and a small suitcase of clothes. No stuffties. No ceramic figurines. No high school sentimentality. I was over all that.
Within the year I had married my high school sweetheart and we moved to a new apartment. It was bigger. It felt settled.
It felt empty. During a visit to Momma, I asked about….. my stuff. The stuffties. The ceramics. The sentimentality. Sure, she said. They’re right here, in this box. I figured you’d want them someday. God bless Momma!
Over the years I collected more stuff. Books, records, dishes, electronics, records, 8 tracks, DVD’s. Valuables. Imagined wealth. Stuff. And since we were doing well financially, we usually moved into a bigger place, with more room for our more stuff, so it wasn’t an issue. If there wasn’t a shelf or place for something, it just stayed in its box in the garage. My imagined wealth was being stored in the warehouse with the Holy Grail at the end of Indiana Jones.
Over the course of the years, I ran the Temple Rummage Sale, handling tons of really nice stuff. Friends moved away and I was in charge of getting rid of their stuff. Momma passed and your mommy Katie curated her stuff. Auntie Bridgett moved in and brought her stuff. We culled some duplicates, switched new clothes for old, but mostly just kept getting more. Every Christmas brought ten new books into the house. Mother’s Day brought new vases from lovely flower arrangements. Art projects became tables and chairs.
And then we decided to move to Portland. Our original intention was to by a lovely old Victorian and spread out in it, but the money from our Salinas home wouldn’t stretch that far. We looked at bigger houses further out of town, but I had lived in the suburbs for most of my life and wanted to be closer to the heart of the city. We signed on a smaller condominium within five blocks of many of our favorite places, and near the bus line to a dozen more. It has many wonderful features. A cute kitchen, hardwood floors, high ceilings.
Tiny garage. No more Indiana Jones warehouse. We are making hard choices about stuff. I am feeling like 1974 again. But this time I am remembering the sentimental stuff. I guess it’s all about balancing who I was with who I am. And maybe, who I want to be.