My family recently moved from the house they’ve lived in for nearly 25 years, which meant it was finally time for me to clear out my old bedroom closet and claim the boxes that had been sitting in the garage. I packed up the trunk of my car with the violin I haven’t played since high school, the hiking backpack I took with me when I was abroad in Italy, yearbooks, and nearly a dozen boxes full of ticket stubs, photos, letters, and postcards, and drove it all to my apartment in Brooklyn.
A few weekends ago, I sat in my apartment and methodically went through every box, knowing there isn’t enough storage space in the apartment to keep everything. I read through holiday and birthday cards, notes written by friends during boring high school classes, and play programs. I tossed out movie tickets so faded you couldn’t read the names of the movies anymore. I ended up condensing the mishmash of shoeboxes and hat boxes to just about 4 total, and was able to organize all my photos into one photo box.
It was an interesting process, and more than just sparking nostalgia, it raised a lot of questions about why we keep the things we do, and how we decide what’s worth holding on to and what’s okay to let go of. It was frustrating to look at the stack of boxes taking up space in the bedroom and I was tempted to just take everything and throw it in the trash. One part of my brain told me these boxes were just full of objects, but another part of it told me all of these pieces fit together to represent my life. True, it’s a strange, unsorted pile of artifacts that wouldn’t quite make sense to anyone else, but that’s what makes it mine.
Where do you store your keepsakes? Do you hang onto everything, or only keep the most meaningful items? Do you think there’s value in saving physical objects?