Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Making Decisions about Memories

I am not known to be neat.

Without making excuses, I will say that my propensity towards the sloppy is not because I don't care. It's because I DO care. I care about everything; I care too much. I have a hard time trashing a newspaper that I didn't read every word of, let alone one that contained articles that interested me, or writing that inspired me. I have a hard time throwing away anything that can possibly be reused, or things I think someone else might want. I always joke that this behavior originates from growing up in the depression (and I do certainly think my mother's thrift has had some impact on my problem) but at the root it is just my overemotional desire to hang on to memories - and usually memories are represented by things. I have a fear of things disappearing, of not being reclaimable, of letting something slip from my fingertips and being unable to remember what it felt like against my skin.

The easy way for people to help me clear up this problem is to just tell me no, to throw some of that stuff away for me, to help me find a way to reuse or recycle - its not a creepy additiction (yet). Its just an annoying habit. I don't really notice when stuff is gone, I just don't like getting rid of it myself. Specifically, I have a problem letting go of certain items like hand written cards, letters and emails.

There is something about a hand written card from my grandmother that just destroys me. Its a thing about words (which are obviously a passion of mine) - its notes, letters, texts and emails. The most touching and important things I own are just a few words shared with me - "Feel Better" cards from my 3rd grade classmates after my dad died, letters from high school friends tucked into my copy of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, a thankful text from my best friend the day after her wedding. I have kept this collection minimal, but its a challenge to not save every word written to me. I know I don't have space for it. I am realistic.

But in the e-world there are only vague limitations to the records I can keep. And keep I do. I almost never delete an email. I revel in my ability to go back through the last few months of my current relationship and read our sweet exchanges. To follow conversations with my best friends on the East coast about burritos and beer. To prove to myself or to another person that a conversation happened or that an agreement way made --I like to have proof. I like to remember what jobs I applied to each time I was unemployed. Luckily at this point I havent hit any of the absurdly high limits on my gmail account, for that will be a sad day. That will be a day when I have to make some decisions. Decisions about what is really important to me.

As for the physical things I have a hard time trashing, maybe its just time I start scanning documents and taking pictures of objects -- time to create an e-time capsule of all my memories so that I can continue into maturity and adulthood without closets full of useless "things" with which I am afraid to part. Or maybe I just start writing about them and then giving them away. I don't really need a closet full of artifacts to remember that I've had experiences - I just need to get better at documenting. Writing about those moments and what they mean to me. What compelled me to hang on to begin with. A half a page of my chicken scratch might be more significant than a business card or a bottle cap in the long run, anyway.


lifestudent said...

Its called HOARDING, and a therapist can help you with it :)

Mattie B said...

Actually I think writing about the items is a good idea. I think I might actually consider doing that.