We’re moving. Did I mention that we’re moving? There are a lot of boxes around here, and I am spending the bulk of my days putting things into them and moving them from one area to another. I’m also doing a lot of letting go, handing other things to people who are glad to take them. Bike seats, easels, old stamp collections, forgotten pet crates and beloved handmade play kitchens – all have gone to new homes in the last ten days.
There have been many moments of wondering why we have so very many things at all. Why do we need any of this, especially the mementos and archival records of our lives?
I have some kind of artefact from every stage of my life so far. Receiving blankets, a necklace I wore as a little girl, childhood photos, report cards, the tie I wore while serving coffee at Tim Horton’s, the bright pink phat pants I wore in my raver stage, my wedding dress. At least ten years of (sometimes sporadic) journals. And that’s not even including the things I got rid of. Those are the keepers.
Out of all my mementos, one of the biggest keepers are the things I’ve managed to lose by accident: my story notebooks from grade 1. I wish I had them, but life goes on.
As I pack up my artefacts, supplies and accoutrements, I know this stage of intense work is short-lived. Soon the mementos will go back in storage and the tables will be clear for new projects to begin. I’m looking forward to that, for sure.
But right now I’m taking stock. I’m remembering that time I took a picture of my best friend posing with a box of Kraft dinner and the whole story comes tumbling back in my mind, along with the whole flavor of that time in my life.
Sorting my mementos feels like a ritual act. It is an act that helps me step into the future as my whole self, past and present, all the layers held together by this magical sense of a consolidated self, and the memory that makes that self possible.