This post has nothing to do with gardening, hiking, travel, or any of the other topics I’ve written about to date. This post is a result of my spouse and I having cleaned out and vacated the storage unit we’ve had for decades. So, feel free to skip this one if you want. I’ll return to my primary topics soon.
Boxes upon boxes of books, photos, scrap books, vinyl albums (including my original mono Meet The Beatles album as well as my complete early Rolling Stones lp collection), an old desk, two framed classic Chinese paintings we’d forgotten about, and a 1940’s-era Persian carpet we inherited from our first landlord – that’s what we have finally finished sorting. In one of the boxes I found my grade school scrap book – names long forgotten that slowly returned along with some notes and cards from my first Very Best Friend in the World – Christine. We were closer to each other than we were with our own sisters and shared countless experiences. She moved to Canada after sixth grade, and eventually we lost track of each other.
I found photos from my first camping experience, when Bill and I took our very first vacation together. We went to a campground on the Oregon coast and experienced three beautiful days of warm, sunny beach exploration and clear, star-filled night skies. But our final day and night was something I have never forgotten – a full-force wind and rain storm that soaked us so thoroughly we ended up with standing water in bottom of our water-proof tent. Sleeping bags, clothes, coats, shoes, socks – everything thoroughly saturated with rain. I have never been that drenched. We packed up and drove home in one shot, and by the time we returned the seats of our car were so wet it took days for them to dry. We did take some lovely photos, however.
I found two old scrap books I inherited from my maternal grandmother upon her death. Letters, cards, old pictures – touching notes from her son who was stationed in China in the early 1940’s; a menu from a 1930’s diner someplace in the mid-west named Sid’s Halfway House and calling itself “The Original Spearfish-Deadwood Stage Coach Stop”, offering coffee and other beverages for 5 cents, T-Bone steak for $1.75, and sandwiches for 50 cents; mementos from my mother’s early life, and a beautiful photo of the old barn from my grandparents’ house in Hood River.
Some of these items I have decided to keep and treasure. Some have been offered to other family members. Others, I have thrown away. One item in particular, the receipt from a camping trip my spouse and I took with my sister and her daughters, brought back some very unpleasant memories. When my eldest sister and her two young daughters moved to Washington state from Alaska (she had been in Alaska for years), the entire family was very happy. All of us helped out in every way possible to make them feel at home, and one of those ways was to take short weekend trips or day-outings together. My sister said she wanted to keep these outings small to help her daughters adjust to the changes – just Bill and I and the three of them, or my younger sister and her spouse and the three of them, or sometimes just our brother and the three of them. Unbeknownst to me, my younger sister and her spouse were not aware of my (older) sister’s desire to keep these outings small, and as a result, felt left out. This went on for a few years until my mother took me aside and told me that my younger sister was very angry and hurt because “you and Bill are leaving them out”. Apparently, my older sister had indicated to my younger sister that Bill and I had chosen to not include them on these outings rather than telling our sister that it was her decision to keep the outings small. My younger sister’s anger and resentment grew over time until it became unresolvable. To my knowledge, my older sister never did admit her role in the confusion, and Bill and I took the blame. I remember talking to my brother about the issue and he said he understood and agreed with why our older sister wanted small outings. Needless to say, those receipts from what should have been a lovely time together have been thrown away.
Today, the storage unit is vacated! Keepsakes that bring joy are kept and treasured, those that are unpleasant are gone, items that are still of use have been donated, and the feeling of accomplishment is tremendous. It feels good to clean out and move on – from both good and bad times.
After all, so much remains ahead!