I was a real pack rat as a kid. I kept everything. I was the youngest of four, so with no one to give my old toys and clothes to, I knew if I didn't keep them, they'd leave the house for good.
I was desperately nostalgic too, not only always looking back at my own childhood, but at those of my parents too. As a result, I kept it all for the first 20 years - toys, books, souvenirs. It wasn't until I moved to Montreal for school that I started getting rid of things and really got a taste of the catharsis that comes from shedding belongings. I've since become a chronic disposer. I don't care if it's a butter knife that I don't use anymore, or a pair of socks that's just starting to fray, or an old email that's taking up room in my inbox. I love getting rid of it.
Last weekend, I brought up some Rubbermaid boxes from my basement to see if I could downsize at all. I knew what was in them - things from my pack rat years, pre-20 - objects and books I'd accumulated through childhood. For all the things I've always easily thrown away, it's this collection that I've simply never been able to. By 20, I'd already owned so many of these things for so long, that I couldn't possibly get rid of them. I own almost nothing that I did when I was 23 and almost everything that I did when I was 13.
My mother's linen calendar tea towels from the 70s. The mouthpiece from the euphonium I played in high school. The first plastic cup ever bought for me at Disney World in 1980 when I was 7.
I own every report card ever handwritten by my teachers about me back to Kindergarten and every single school book I ever worked in from Grade 1 up to the final exam booklet I handed in for the last Art History class of my degree at McGill.
Every journal I ever cried into; and every school and class picture I ever sat for, chronicling my aging face and self-reflective curiosity. To this day, I still own every single empty cologne bottle I've ever gone through back to Polo from age 14. Even those cans pictured above were in there. They came from an old abandoned house that my friends and I discovered in the woods when I was 17. I can't get rid of them now.
I knew when I was unpacking these boxes that I'd just look at things and be happy for them and put them back. And I did. It feels like a burden, this collection, but I've invested so much emotionally into it all, into the nostalgia and memory of it all by now, that I can't get rid of these things, not yet anyway. So back into the Rubbermaids, and into the basement it all went for another few years, until I try to downsize again, at a different time in my life.