Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Trip Down Memory Lane

There is a community garage sale here in Tiny Village this coming weekend. I decided that this would be a good opportunity to clean out the attic. A number of years ago we cleared out Daughter’s old toys and moved them to the attic. I’m not sure why we saved them. I guess maybe I thought she’d want to play with them again someday.

It was a cool day, so I sent Daughter into the attic to pull things out (it’s not really an attic, more storage under the eaves—no lights and lots of crawling involved). I decided I would go through the 5-6 boxes of papers I had stored in there. So, today, I recycled my college and seminary class notes, papers, and exams. They’d been carefully stored for over 20 years, and I hadn’t even looked at the boxes since we moved here 12 years ago. I decided it was safe to assume I wouldn’t need them in the future. I pulled a few things out to save. I’m not sure why.

Daughter enjoyed finding old toys and books. I told her she could have the money from any of her toys, books, and clothing we sold at the sale. She’s excited about it. I had forgotten about some of the things that we had stored in there. It’s unbelievable the number of different comforters Daughter has had for her bed over the years. I can trace her growth through those linens.

I was also marveling at the advance in electronics. I have a number of plastic boxes containing my Day-Timers from over the years. Each month I would pull out a new calendar book. There were two pages a day, with plenty of space for appointments, tasks, mileage, expenses, etc. A number of years ago I got to the church and discovered I had left my Day-Timer at home. I had to turn around and go back to get it—I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing. About 15 years of my life is recorded in those pages. They are being recycled.

I now use an electronic organizer, and when my last PDA died, I went to a Blackberry Pearl. The only drawback to that is that cell phones aren’t allowed in the psychiatric hospital, so when I get in there with Daughter for an appointment or admission, I don’t have access to all her information or my calendar. I’ve found the electronic version also is more of a nag. I don’t like seeing the past due tasks listed on the screen in red.

I found lots of writings about the turmoil that was life in the Ghetto Church where I spent 10 years. We hired people off the street, and they often had significant mental health issues. That means we often had significant staff issues. At one point my brother thought we should have a question on our employment application that asked how often the applicant heard voices. There was a great deal of turmoil. When people were successful with us, they left us and moved up to better jobs. When people weren’t successful, they often left in a dramatic way: theft, threats, psychotic breaks—in one memorable incident our custodian imprisoned a workman in the building. The sad thing was that until he became psychotic, he’d been one of our best employees. I considered saving some of that history, but decided that living through it once had been painful enough. I shredded the more sensitive material before recycling it.

I also found some of the court papers on Daughter. I saved those. They’re part of her history, and she’ll need to decide what to do with them. Other than those papers, most of the things we found held good memories for Daughter, and I think she enjoyed seeing them again.

We didn’t finish today, but we made a good start. We’ll continue this journey through our history all week. What doesn’t sell next weekend will be donated. I hope that after next weekend our attic will contain Christmas decorations, storm windows (or screens, depending on the season), and suitcases. In another month or so we’ll put the fans back in there, as well.

I’m very much aware of the fact that over the past 12 years we have managed to fill this very large 4 bedroom house. It’s time to begin getting rid of some of these things. Someday we will be moving, and I’m sure our next home will be much smaller. I want to be ready. I also want to learn from this, and cut way back on our spending. Two people don't need most of what we have crammed into this house. It's time to simplify our lives.

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