Objects are not people, yet we often place such sentimental significance on them that they may as well be. I hold on to ticket stubs and programs and thank you cards and wedding invitations. My current memory box is almost full to capacity, and will eventually make its way home to my parents’ attic where it shall remain with its brothers and sisters so that other bits of memorabilia can make the long journey from my purse to my bulletin board to a brand new over-sized plastic bin. These items are manageable, but not only that, most of these items are linked to a specific time, place, event, feeling. But I have these other items, three to be exact, that I carry around like an albatross.
One is a room divider, a three-way folding screen that NB and I found on the side of the road when we lived together. It’s wood grained on one side, but the other has these lovely fabric panels with painted on leaves and flowers. Even when he and I lived in a house together, the screen served no real purpose other than looking cool, but the apartments I’ve lived in since have only allowed the screen to be used as a clunky wall decoration. On top of that, one of the cats continually jumps at it and scratches it, having already pulled off one of the fabric panels which he now sleeps on. The second item also came from the house NB and I shared: a large, heavy wood framed mirror, definitely bland 70’s style, that is too heavy to hang on my frail apartment walls. The last item was a Christmas gift from Best Exie: a very old record player, old-timey boom box style, with speakers that open from the sides. It has to weigh at least 60 pounds, and has NEVER worked properly.
So I have these things. They’ve moved with me in and out of apartments, they collect dust, they get shuffled from one part of my room to another, the cats play with them, they clutter my living space, they make me claustrophobic. Why can’t I get rid of them?
When I started living alone, I liked the idea that my apartment was made up of these various things, these different aspects of my life coming together and essentially making me a whole person. They allowed me to retain a sense of my past, present and future all at once in tangible form. Every time I think “God, this mirror is in my fucking way, next trip to Goodwill, this thing is in the trunk” it’s immediately followed by “Oh but it belonged to NB’s grandmother, and it’s part of the house we painted together and I don’t want to erase those memories”. Nevermind the fact that he hasn’t spoken to me in 4 years, and the last time I heard his voice the words coming through the phone at me were cruel. Nevermind that he now lives in that house we shared with his wife and daughter, and he literally painted over everything that could possibly remind him of me. Nevermind those things. Nevermind.
I’ve made these objects larger than they are. They’re just things. Frankly, kind of useless things. Useless things that weigh me down. Carrying them to the curb will set me free. To quote Ruth Fisher, “I am surrounded by these relics of a life that doesn’t even exist anymore”.
Anyone want to help a girl carry her load down four flights of stairs?