Amanda and I are going to New York next week. It's for our anniversary and we've been planning it since February. We got our tax return back last Spring and were able to get our plane tickets, hotel, and two tickets to Wicked all without spending money from a paycheck or using a credit card. But then there's the issue of spending money. Throughout the preceding months we've had various surpluses here and there, and everytime we said, "Put it aside for New York." Never happened. So here we are a week before the big trip and unless we want to eat Taco Bell every day and just see a bunch of free stuff (who wants to see free stuff in New York, especially when you've already been there many times before) we are having to find money.
So we settled on a good old fashioned garage sale, and were able to swindle...I mean convince my parents to hosting it in their garage. They're even selling a few things themselves. Rumaging throught the stuff here at my own apartment was easy. Amanda and I both have tons of stuff that we've just been waiting to get rid of. Mostly stuff from college that we used before we had taste, but also a few gifts that, for lack of a better expaination, didn't fit in with the rest of our stuff. (Don't worry, we are keeping the thing/s that you gave us, and we LOVE it/them! We use it/them everyday.) Rumaging through my parents things are little more difficult. Not only do they have almost thirty years of junk to deal with, they accumulated people along the way and therefore have accumulated layers upon layers of stuff. Looking through the stuff at my parents home was surreal on many levels. It's great to get all nastalgic and weepy eyed over a letter that my dad wrote my mom while they were in college, or find a picture I drew as a kindergartener. I even like looking through my brothers' things or pictures and thinking, "Yeah, I remember making fun of him when he got that haircut." Ahh, those were the days.
I find myself thinking, as we are trying to thin out some of the clutter that simply sits and collects dust, "At what point does sentimentality and nastalgia become nausiating and lame?" I can't throw away pictures. No matter how much distance is between myself and the people or events that took place in the photographs I can never bring myself get to throw away actual records of what I or my loved ones were doing at any particular time. Pictures are so personal, so ingrained in our minds as what have molded us into what we are. They are the records of our experiences, whether happy or sad, sweet or bitter, grand or small, we are who we are because of the things that happened to us previously in our lives. Pictures are actual mini recorded histories of our lives. Even if a photo reminds us of parts of our lives we might like to forget, I just don't see how trashing them would be anything but detrimental to our self awareness. The motto of Gamma Sigma Phi, the social club (fraternaty) I was a part of in college, is "Know Thyselves, Brothers." I truly believe that knowing oneself is one of the most important things a person can do in life. Not just pictures but all the other junk that gets rediscovered in the midst of garage sale mania helps us to get know ourselves in such a way that it becomes therapy.
Of course, there is a load of stuff that needed to have been tossed a decade or more ago, and probably just didn't get sold in the last garage sale. For example, when I was in college I bought from a T.V. commercial this Dale Earnhart comemerative clock, with the car that races around in circles every hour to the announcer saying "And Dale Earnhart takes the checkered flag," or whatever it is that they say when someone wins a NASCAR race. Amanda hates it but I think it's funniest thing ever. I will never be able to put that up in our apartment or house. I probably should sale that thing. It's will hurt, but there's a kid who's got the number 3 with wings on it on the back of his truck who needs that in his bedroom more than I need it in my closet. Sentimentality can become quite rediculous. For sure, we can't take any of it with us, and while some of it will be passed to our childen, it's arrogant to think that my great-grandson will take any interest in my affection for ugly pottery. Plus, if too much of my stuff is preserved then the few things that really mean something won't be as special. Is a photo of media-whore Paris Hilton, anything to balk at anymore? No, but if you have an autographed photo of J.D. Salinger and you might as well retire. In the same way, I want to pass on some stuff to succeeding generations, but only the good stuff. You know, photos, letters, my CD collection, bobble head dolls.