I was attempting to clean out a bookshelf in our office recently and was struck by a feeling similar to what I suppose grips those poor bastards on Hoarders: the realization that everything has meaning.

From a notebook in which I scribbled notes while interviewing our non-denominational wedding officiant:

Formal greeting . . . statement about marriage . . . homily on love
what love is not (possession, not to change, not to make a responsibility)
Virtues of the heart, courage to recognize, vulnerability. never take each other for granted
courtesy to listen
Forgiveness

From a pile of paperbacks:

Hiking Zion & Bryce Canyon
Hiking the Grand Staircase-Escalante & the Glen Canyon Region
The Rough Guide to Thailand
Oregon’s Cascade Lakes
Hiking the North Cascades
Snowshoe Routes in Washington
Traveling with Your Pet: the AAA Guide
Taking Charge of Your Fertility
20,0001 Names for Baby
Nature Walks In & Around Seattle

Like a portrait of our marriage, in broad strokes. (Note how adventurous exotic travel and hiking dwindles to “nature walks.”) Man, I can’t get rid of that stuff. Even though the books are dusty and they smell and the only charge I want to take of my fertility is to smash it into submission until menopause.

Now, if I start talking about the sentimental value of giant piles of cat feces and 54 broken vacuums and a ceiling-high stack of newspapers, send help.

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Eric's Mommy
11 years ago

I feel the same way. I have a book we got about touring Scotland when we went over there. I also have my pregnancy and breastfeeding books, I will not part with them even though I doubt I will have a 2nd child.

Eric's Mommy
11 years ago

Oh ya, and the baby name books have come in handy for naming pets :)

bessie.viola
11 years ago

Yup, I totally understand this. I haven’t been able to throw away the calendar that hung on the wall in our rental house the year we were married… something about all those appointments leading to the wedding really recalls all the anticipation for me.

I’m the same with books too.

Joe
Joe
11 years ago

I just painted and redesigned my office, and have to either fit a couple of thousand books into smaller shelves, or come to terms with the fact that I will never again read all those tomes, nor will my kids ever have an interest in early 1990 techno thrillers. “Why didn’t he just call on his cell phone or google a map Dad?”

And after spending a bunch of money on new, better looking bookshelves, I suddenly wondered if that e-reader I could never see myself buying might be cheaper in the long run than storing all those books?

Sarah
11 years ago

LOL. You sound like me. I hate getting rid of things because everything has such meaning…but then I find myself on a massive trash dump and some of those things go away. Comes from having too small a house…even if I really really wanted to there is no way I could ever keep everything.

Wockyjabber
11 years ago

I’ve had a painted rock in my junk drawer for 21 + years, because it reminds me of an old friend, so I get that.

Gleemonex
11 years ago

Yes, absolutely, always. The other day, readying a Goodwill donation bag, I got misty-eyed throwing out (not donating!) a blown-out, gray waffle-weave shirt from Old Navy with holes in the sleeves and armpits. I wore that under a t-shirt nearly every day of my maternity leave, see.

I don’t keep actual junk … but the kinds of things you describe in this post are not junk. Not to me. SO — yes, I feel ya.

lucidkim
lucidkim
11 years ago

i have moments of understanding (at least a tiny bit) some of those people on hoarders -the ones who think things will be useful “one day” or “reminds of the time…” – not the ones who refuse to throw actual trash away/have things piled floor to ceiling/have to walk on top of stuff/can’t see floor (now those people: i totally don’t get) – your stuff has meaning and isn’t trash at all. and i’ve read that many writers keep baby name books to use when trying to find character names so hey, that one is planning for your future as a writer. :)

Gertie
11 years ago

I have a few things I brought with me when I moved, but there is something to be said for moving 6,000 with just a large suitcase; you certainly must re-evaluate what to keep.

What I ended up doing was either scanning (letters, cards, etc.) or photographing stuff I wanted to remember but knew wasn’t feasible to keep.

Now I don’t have the stuff cluttering up my place, but I can easily look back on it any time I want.

Mary H.
Mary H.
11 years ago

Hysterical!

Kari
Kari
11 years ago

I really can’t be the only person who read

“homily on love”

as

“hornily in love”

Elaine
Elaine
11 years ago

Kari – no, you are not the only one.

Jenny
Jenny
11 years ago

I think I have hoarder tendencies. If I wasn’t well-trained by my clutter hating mother.

But I do keep some birthday and Christmas cards. I limit myself to one box in my basement and I was happy I had that when one of my friends died a few years ago.

The one thing that I can’t get rid of that is pretty stupid—a datebook from 2009 that got basically destroyed by spilled Diet Pepsi. Last year was an eventful year–In January I found out that my job was being eliminated in May. I spent 5 months searching for a new job and on my last day of work I received an offer for a job that was pretty perfect. And somehow that datebook with all of my interviews written down in it is a symbol of how blessed I was to get that job (which also allowed me to take a previously planned trip to Ireland before I started). And it had details of my trip to Ireland.

NancyJ
NancyJ
11 years ago

When I moved out to California in the late 80s I had a “treasure box”. I had to move via UPS so I really couldn’t take alot of stuff so my really precious things were in this box. In the ensuing 23 years it has turned into a tupperware container but still has things I will never, ever get rid of: wedding RSVPs, sign in book from my mother’s funeral, calendars from years past, special cards from my son….you get the picture. When I’m feeling melancholy I’ll go up into the attic and sift through it all.

Mary
11 years ago

Oh, wow. Taking charge of your fertility. I used to own that book. I wonder whatever happened to it, I haven’t seen it in years. And my baby is 13. I must have given it to somebody.

Ness at Drovers Run
11 years ago

I used to say I was someone who travelled a lot. I suppose TEN YEARS AGO I was. Shit. What do I call myself now!?

Kristin
11 years ago

Funny. I just went thorough our bookshelves recently as well, and had ‘What to Expect the First Year’ in the Goodwill pile. I mean, I’m not having any more ‘First Years’ in my house. Five is enough (more than enough some days), but I pulled it out of the pile at the last minute. I just couldn’t do it. No rational explanation needed… emotional attachment is enough. Our stories our in that ‘stuff’.

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