I have a spare room full of old crap that I don’t have the emotional fortitude to throw away.
Cardboard boxes sit stacked against the walls and are crammed with old medals, plaques, high school yearbooks and a ton of other detritus that I’ve accumulated over the years.
Some of these forgotten items are school work: Notes from my AP European History course in high school, a binder containing my leaf collection from eighth grade and about a dozen bookmarks adorned with factoids about the lives of famous mathematicians.
(Fun fact: Archimedes’ last words to the Roman soldier who killed him were apparently “Do not disturb my circles.” Among other things, Archimedes was famous for discovering how to calculate the area of a circle.)
Many of them are justifiable keepsakes, including my uncle’s old guitar and a litany of lovely, gushing birthday cards from my grandparents, and a lot of it is simply cherished junk: An infrequently used Slinky, an old lobster bib and a pair of thick, plastic lips that I received as a gag gift on Christmas.
I also have a large picture of a very polite-looking cat that my friends bought for me from a thrift store. It has the words “A Tabby Cat” printed in prim font across the bottom and is currently sitting facedown on the floor of my living room.
Both literally and figuratively, I have trouble letting things go. Oftentimes, out of the blue, I’ll be reminded of embarrassing moments from high school or college, but I’m swaddled by a wave of nostalgia whenever I look through yearbooks or try to play a scale on my uncle’s now under-used guitar.
The bib reminds me of my annual childhood trips to Red Lobster on my birthday, the plastic lips remind me of inside jokes in the newsroom of my college paper, and my AP European History notes remind me how inbred the Habsburg royal family was. That last one is a fun conversation starter (See: Habsburg Jaw).
The boxes in my apartment returned to the forefront of my mind because I’m getting ready to move next month, and I’ve realized that I need to find a better way to store these old items — and also be a bit more discerning about which items I decide to keep.
Besides old birthday cards, I also found a bunch of worn receipts and movie stubs that are now so faded that it’s impossible to read what they say. I’m pretty sure one of the tickets is from a showing of “True Grit” (the one starring Jeff Bridges).
Honestly, I get the feeling that I’ll probably end up just shoving all of these belonging in a closet in my new place and forgetting about them again, but it might be time to give them a bit more respect.
I think Tabby Cat deserves a place on the wall.