I have this room, it’s at the old house where I used to live up in the mountains, where for a few years now, I’ve thrown everything that I didn’t know what else to do with.
I think everyone has a room like that, though in many cases they might have to fit it into a closet or a shoebox or a corner under the bed. Without a place to store away those bits of memories that you haven’t yet figured out a reason for having, it seems like you’d constantly be throwing away or losing ideas that you never knew you were going to need one day.
In a way you might be better off if you have to cram it all into a shoebox, because then you can’t afford to toss just any old thing in there, and chances are it’ll get filled up often enough that you’ll have to regularly go through it and weed out the the stuff that’s lost its meaning.
That’s touchy business, of course, because regardless of what it might look like, it’s not just “stuff” or “things.” In reality, you’re also weeding out people and places, because that’s what most of that “stuff” is really about.
Do you really need that postcard you wrote to some crazy crush back when you were just out of high school, that was so embarrassingly mushy and, well, dumb, that it’s no wonder she laughed at the idea of ever being your girlfriend, even though you never got up the nerve to send it?
What about a box full of weird xeroxes that you meant to use for backgrounds in your zine, but never did, but still might get around to one of these days, but probably not? You start to toss them into the bonfire (one good thing about having your room in the country: when you dispose of stuff, it’s really disposed of, cremated, turned into dust and ashes and thin air before your eyes), but before you can, you catch sight of an old flyer for your band, or a funny little article you wrote for someone else’s zine.
Then everything has to stop while you sit down and study it, and before you know it, instead of wondering what you can throw away, you’re flipping through the pages of a life that barely seems your own anymore.
Who was that kid who said all that wise-ass stuff, who dashed through days and nights as if they were seamless and never-ending, who wore a gleam in his eye and showed just a hint of a swagger in the way he sashayed through the world?
He seems vaguely familiar, but then by now you’ve met a thousand kids like that, and they’re all you and they’re all strangers, and any one of them could have crept into your secret room and left these bits and remants of a life lived but never fully realized. You begin to understand that cleaning out this room is not a job that is going to be finished in an hour or an afternoon or, for that matter, ever.