Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Rubber Snake I Won at that Primm, Nevada Casino is Very Precious to Me

Today, I deleted my MySpace account.

I also inadvertently deleted the first "Hey! Let's hang out!" message Husband ever sent to me. I just missed screencapping it - by about ten seconds - before the account cancellation took effect and y'all? I was devastated. At first, I thought, "Oh! I'll just log into Husband's account and get it!"

Except Husband isn't a massive digital packrat who keeps messages from over three years ago hanging out in in his inbox, unarchived.

Husband: I don't think I saved that, Honey. I don't save my messages.
Margaret: NOOOOOO :-(
Husband: Sorry, honey. If I'd known back then, I would have saved it for you.

I chose to appreciate how nice he is and ignore the fact that my first thought was, "Well, you should have known!" Because I am a little bit crazy. But just a little bit, because I only thought it. Because I would actually be a little weirded out if he'd known he was going to marry me when he asked if I wanted to carpool to a Deerhoof show. Anyway.

We moved into our cozy little half of a 1949 duplex the moment we got legally married. Over a year and a half later, Husband's parents still have a closet half-full of his stuff, waiting for the day I throw away enough of my crap to make room for it here.

I keep everything - everything - but earlier this year I managed to part with enough little bits of paper and plastic to fill our trash collection bin twice. I still had piles left over afterward. A few weeks ago, I moved ten more huge boxes of stuff out to the garage. (Fine. Technically Husband moved the huge boxes of stuff out to the garage.)

As I pawed through the garage-bound tubs, I found a marked-up copy of Macbeth from my junior year of high school, which, now that I've actually looked inside it, isn't even my old copy of MacBeth, but High School Boyfriend's copy. As I shelved it with some other old paperback books, I commented that we were mostly re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic as far as my pack-rat tendencies go, but at least the deck chairs were finally out in the garage, not piled up behind the couch gathering enough cat hair to knit a sweater.

Maybe I save everything because I've moved every two years or so since I was ten years old. Maybe I hang on to things because the people and moments they remind me of were mostly lost to interstate moves and growing pains.

Maybe Husband doesn't feel compelled to save things the way I do because he's lived within the same thirteen mile radius his entire life. If he wants to go hang out in his hometown or visit his boyhood home, where his parents still live, we can drive there in about ten minutes. For me to do the same, we've got to shill out a few hundred dollars to fly east and knock on familiar doors belonging to strange people.

(Or maybe it's just because I'm lady and he's a dude.)

Even though my nostalgia is heavily mired in geography, I didn't just save pieces of back home. There's a box for all but one of my ex-boyfriends. (I guess I finally had some memories I didn't want. I torched a shoe box full of mementos and threw the jewelry into a man-made lake a few years back, and that may have marked the first time I ever got rid of any of my personal relics on purpose.) There's a box for every session of Jesus Camp, and a box for every year of Marching Band. I've got copies of my high school literary magazine and a box full of black & white xeroxed rock show flyers. I've saved hundreds of concert tickets, airline tickets, train tickets, baseball tickets, and I've got movie tickets so faded I can't even make out what the film was anymore.

I've got a cloth napkin that High School Boyfriend swiped from Disneyland, an empty pack of cigarettes First Boyfriend and I shared right before I moved to California, notes my girlfriends slipped into my locker in seventh grade, huge D&D grids covered in sharpie-drawn maps scribbled all over by the folks I used to play with, programs from shows I was in, programs from shows I wasn't in, dilapidated puff paint t-shirts from elementary school Field Days, a weird half bandanna from a Disney Cruise, my baby teeth, sugar packets from some restaurant in D.C., a paper crane made out of a San Francisco restaurant menu, and a few hotel key cards from the Marriott near Vegas where we stayed during a marching band trip. Oh! And my old colorguard uniforms - spandex I'll never fit into again, packed in an unfinished cedar chest my great-grandfather made just before he died, right next to my cheerleading trophy and the dress my mom married my Bio-Dad in.

That's just a sampler. I've got tubs upon meticulously labeled tubs full of proof that I Did Things and Knew People, and when you click back through my Gmail inbox you'll hit 2004 after a few thousand messages. In the days before the advent of Gmail's nearly endless storage, I printed out emails because I wanted to save them. I've got boxes for those too.

Part of me is still devastated not to have at least a JPEG of the first time Husband asked me to hang out.

But then I realized something.

I still have him, so what do I need the JPEG for?


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42 comments:

The Ranters Box said...

I totally get it about the email. There is something comforting about saving material mementos. Those scraps of paper, programs and sugar packets become historical souvenirs that tell the stories of our life. While memories are stored inside our hearts and minds, being able to touch a little piece of our past helps take us back to those special moments... The trick to dealing with all the things that have been saved is to figure out what is significant and relevant to who you are today and then letting go of the rest.

Jo said...

I'm such a hoarder. I keep *everything*... just in case. And it's the little things that remind me of bigger memories. Trouble is, I keep all of this stuff, and then I forget I have it, and the only time I ever remember it's there (and let all the memories flood back) is when I *next* come around to "having a big clear out".

Btw - what's with collecting sugar packets from restaurants? I used to do it and my high school best friend had an actual sugar packet *collection*...

Joe said...

We're moving into our rental and had a dumpster full of our (mine) stuff that went away. I don't think I'll ever fit into any of the clothes I got rid of and how did I end up with 25 pairs of pants and shorts that I've eaten myself out of.

Hap said...

Getting rid of stuff is real hard! Get someone else to tidy up for you and have them put the stuff away for safe-keeping, maybe for a year. After that, they could throw or give them away. (hopefully not back to you, that is)

Kait Nolan said...

I totally still have the early emails between me and my husband printed out. They are 11 years old as of this weekend. But yeah, you're right. You've got him and that's what matters. :D

Constar said...

oh i have 2 boxes in my room FILLED with stuff that i considered memories at the time. funny enough i looked through it the other day and found a bunch of those movie ticket things that date back to 2001 - 2008... and i cannot remember for the life of me why i keptthem! lol funny how things can mean enough for you to put in a box but not enough for you to remember the moments!

Jenn said...

I have the same problem...and in my e-mail, I too have ooooolllldddd e-mails saved. Why? I have no clue. I don't read them...but just in case I wanted to, they are there. I guess I'm just too sentimental for my own good.

Heather Seymour said...

It's a little shocking how much of myself I recognize in this... we're all taking baby steps!

Two Fat Girls Take Umbrage said...

I'm with you on the land-o-tubs! I NEVER moved as a child and have lived with Husband in the same house for twenty years. So what is my excuse? I am really bad with digital photos. I have prints, cd's, scrapbooks and still every single digital photo I have ever taken (even the crappy ones) are still trapped in the bowels of my computer.

I guess it's FEAR...but who knows what to do with that?
Jo

Allison said...

I am the exact same way - I am a hoarder :(

I have old school notebooks, letters, photos, scraps - I have it all. Necklaces I wore when I was 7. My emails, don't get me started - I have them all.

Cassie said...

Oh man, I can relate... kind of. I actually wrote a post similar to this a couple weeks ago how I've gotten fairly good at purging stuff that I just don't need anymore. Still, I don't think I've ever thrown away a movie ticket despite the fact that I don't exactly "collect" them... they're scattered in about 3948573948 zillion billion different places, and honestly, they mean nothing to me. I think that's one habit I need to break.

Otherwise, I really am trying to live more of a minimalist life than a too-much-crap kind of life, because hoarding definitely runs in one side of my family, and those family members' habits frighten and frustrate me to no end.

Cassie
Witty Title Here - www.samborastranger.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

I used to save everything, and for the same reason, but that last clear out before we went overseas (when you helped, and in the process adopted some of my random stuff as your own) I guess I'd just reached a point in life when I was ready to let most of it go. I got rid of stuff I'd carried around since I was a child.

Not everything though. I still have two rocks that I've had since the mid-1970's. I dunno where they came from, or when, but I know I've had them since about 5th grade and it's a shame to let them go now. Gold-ball sized rock and fist sized rock. (no, not Pet Rocks, I know some one is thinking they were. no one I know would have squandered money on such a thing, and if they had, I would have saved the packaging, because without it? justarock.)

Also, I'm pretty sure you still have some stuff in my garage.

nnn

RachelRenae said...

Haha- I laughed when I read this. I've got three inboxes FULL of old emails (the kind that say, "I'll see you at 5:30" or "OK"). I actually have a pile of printed emails that my husband and I sent back and forth while we were still dating.

Glad to know I'm not the only neurotic techno pack-rat out there.

Martha said...

Every time I think I'm the most neurotic person on the planet, I realize I'm not. :) Yep, I'm a hoarder too. I'm in the midst of a huge huge purge right now. Feels pretty good.

John J. Franks IV said...

I too tend to keep a lot of things I never use in the hopes that one day I "may need them" Not so much for memories, as for the fact I always believe I can find an alternate use for what ever it is.

Well it is getting to be time to do the trash or cash it in. I could fill an industrial dumpster!

Steve G. said...

I compulsively save digital stuff - I still have my old Eudora e-mail account and all the mails from it. However, I'm not really sentimental about physical stuff, oddly enough. I still have some things I wrote in middle and high school, and reflecting back on them, I'm definitely glad I kept them.

lunabug89 said...

It is nice to know I am not alone in keeping anything and everything. I've got two full rooms in my house of items. Just not organized. i've got e-mails save from five years ago, my boyfriend says I've got a good enough memory not to need those things but its nice to look back.

Charles said...

The JPEG, oddly enough, would have been important to me to. And I wooed my girl partially over facebook in the beginning, so you have prompted me to get on and screen shot that stuff so I won't lose it when facebook implodes in on itself because the load of it's popularity becomes too much.

I understand saving too much shit. I don't get neat and tidy people who throw things away on a whim. It doesn't make sense.

Thanks

http://arealgoodblog.blogspot.com

SkyWaitress said...

I don't know if moving around a lot or staying in the same place has anything to do with the pack rat tendencies. My husband and I are the exact opposite of you and your husband. I save every little ticket stub and scribbled note while he has almost nothing. The fact that he's saved cards and letters that we've written to each other is a big deal. I lived in the same house (where my parents still live) until I was 18. He moved more times than he can count.

There is something strangely wonderful about going through old boxes of things and remembering good times and bad. ::happy sigh:: I may need to do that some time soon.

Calvin said...

Oh Girls, and their tendency to keep EVERYTHING... restraint, women, restraint.

Amanda M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amanda M said...

ugh the baby teeth. those really freak you out when you have forgotten all about them and your rummaging through old birthday cards! I am surprised I ever kept mine as they were all filled with precious metals :p aha. ur posts make me feel all warm n' fuzzy! I read them normally before bed or whenever i need a laugh! check u later. p.s. we are friends you just dont know it. woo!

Meagooo :) said...

I also keep everything. Only problem I have is that I didn't organize it all...So if I ever need it again, I will never be able to find it. Bahhh. :/ I'm such a packrat.

Turfdad said...

Oh man this sucks. You guys are talking about saving first e-mails to spouses. There wasn't e-mail when I met my wife. I think I owned a Commodore 64 when I met my wife.

theTsaritsa said...

Sounds like Clean House would have a field day at your place! It's kind of weird that you have all that stuff from your ex-boyfriends. I always throw that crap out. They're exes for a reason.

Margaret said...

@the Tsaritsa - Well, the house is generally clean, it's not like I have it strewn about or anything. I keep all my random crap pretty well boxed up (which i suppose makes it funnier that I still have it!)

Regarding the exes, the stuff I've saved is almost entirely pre-high school graduation era. As an adult, I've only had two boyfriends: the one whose related mementos were burned/drowned, and Husband. So it's not really all that weird that I'd save things from the boys I dated when I was younger, especially since a lot of those items are tied to things like prom, marching band, or other growing up stuff. They're exes because we were kids, not because something bad happened.

Dawn said...

Hey! Have you noticed? Most of these replies are from women! Maybe it IS a girl thing!!! I know I'm a hoarder of memorabilia too, and yes, it IS stuff like tickets and photos and other such things that remind me of things I've done, places I've been and people I've known. It's so hard to let go of these trophies from the past, because we get a warm all-over glow at the memories they bring, whenever we take them out of their receptacles (usually while looking for something else entirely!!!) That feeling is worth more than gold! So, happy hoarding people! 8-D xxx

theTsaritsa said...

Didn't mean to imply that you're dirty, but most Clean House people aren't. They just have a lot of crap. I also get what you're saying about the mementos. I'm still friends with my high-school boyfriend-- we'll always be friends, we just weren't romantically compatible.

@Dawn, it's not a girl thing. If I save things it's for a collage. If I don't use them in a collage, they get thrown out.

lizzyBathory said...

I just have to say; with writing as great as yours, you should dump the material goods for stories. I've been doing just that; as I go through storage, the items that have memories linked to them but serve no other purpose in my life I've "repurposed" as stories; I start with an image of the item; digital or written, then tell a little "snapshot"storiy of why that item was important to me. I had a business card from my grandfather (who died 14 years ago and retired 17 years before THAT) still stashed in my wallet. Instead, I have a digital image of it, and a strong list of short stories of the times I had with him. It makes room in my storage and in my head (I need that for Graduate school; ugh!)

Nokorola said...

That's very sweet about wanting the messages. We all collect stuff, it's part of our consumer lives.

HungryhungryJappo said...

This reminds me of how bad I am at throwing away stuff as well. In fact it runs in my genes, my whole family has a problem with throwing away stuff. Back when I graduated highschool and my parents would move to San Francisco, while I would stay in the San Jose area, we had to throw away two big dumpsters worth of stuff. These were BIG dumpsters, the ones big rigs would pull.

So don't feel bad. There are far worse people out there.

Colleen said...

I'm just paranoid. I've got emails dating back to 2004 (when I first opened my Yahoo account) of important stuff from school, and I don't delete them because I am afraid that the moment I do I'll get a letter from school saying that I didn't actually graduate college and I won't be able to prove that I did because I deleted the email!

Katie Kuffel said...

I go through a series of binging and purging at garage sales. It's horrible. I understand.

Mama Sky said...

You cant get into my attic its so full of stuff I really dont need but havent gotten rid of. I recently was given boxes of toys and whatnot from my childhood- my mom finally cleaned out my room after all these years lol. She actually had to purchase another storage shed to put on her property to pack it with other stuff from my childhood room she couldnt "part" with yet lol, or in this case that I had no room to take- yet.

Henna @ AboutDivorce Blog said...

ewwww - snake, i hear the name and i have got some slimy feeling in my back, i can tstand them, even if its a rubber one and cannot move at all,

Ron @ DubaiFunHolidays said...

a nice post, i enjoyed reading it, going to casinos and playing for one is something that everyone should do at least once in life, the casions in navada are too good,

Sana Castellano said...

I save mails, mementos, and souvenirs too. Maybe it does has something to do with being a lady! =)
All the best, you two!
xx

laurenne said...

WAIT... you met your husband on MySpace? No way.

Also, I still have a box of every note that was passed to me during high school. One even includes a lock of a boy's hair. It's kind of just a black blobby thing now.

Margaret said...

@Laurenne - Oh lord NO we didn't meet on MySpace, that was just the preferred method of social networking at the time. :-)

Mungee's Ma said...

I could have written this. You make me want to purge the clutter. Except that I don't want to. Halp!

Jenny, the Bloggess said...

Amen.

Victor's a hoarder. I'm a tosser. Not in the British sense. Victor feels your pain.

DUKA said...

Well, I gotta say that I also keep things in order to remember past events I've been through...
I have a collection of glasses which I keep carefully 'cause they represent moments I was together with some very close and good friend. These glasses are surely relevant to me.