Friday Fragments 7: the fragments are in my closet…

…which sounds, somehow, like a lost Pink Floyd lyric. I’m not sure why.

This coming weekend, I get to do something that I’ve been wanting to do for months: I get to de-clutter my closet.

Actually, I’ve been working on it in bits and pieces for a while now. I cleared out the clothes that, for one reason or another, didn’t feel right for me anymore. I organized the remaining clothes onto color-coded hangers (seriously!) and into attractive boxes on the shelf. I have a hanging shoe caddy, and I’m not afraid to use it.

So, now it’s just a matter of sifting through the drifts of clutter on the floor.

And here’s where it gets tricky. Because this is paper clutter. My Achilles heel.

Photographs. Old love letters. Birthday cards and Valentines. Concert and theater programs. Offers to settle old credit card debt, probably long expired. (Wait, forget I said that. Nothing to see here. Move along.)

My old school projects. The Mercurial Maiden’s old school projects. One example of the drawing she used to make over and over again when she was three, that looked like fireworks but that she said was “my brain!”

How can I possibly get rid of this stuff?

But if I don’t want to get rid of it, and I also don’t want it cluttering up my closet, where on earth is it going to go?

Not many people know this, and you’d surely never guess it to look at my house, but I have been known to do the Flylady thing. I like de-cluttering. I find it extremely satisfying. I’m usually the one in the house saying, “Do we really need this 20-year-old toaster/three pencil sharpeners/these socks that keep getting moved from bedroom to bedroom because nobody thinks they’re theirs? Can we just get rid of this stuff?”

(Mind you, there was also a time when I owned more than a dozen books on how to simplify your life. That’s probably worth keeping in mind.)

If there’s one thing I do hoard, though, it’s paper. Keepsakes. Mementos.

I can probably cull some of this stuff, mind you; I’ve done that before. I don’t know about the photographs, though. Last week, I was visiting my parents, and discovered a stack of albums filled with old pictures from my father’s side of the family. There was me at age five with my arm in a sling from one of the handful of times I broke or sprained bones that year (it was an adventurous year!). There was my father as a teenager, holding his infant brother. There was a great-grandmother I had never met, looking astonishingly like some character from the Little House series.

If I toss out my old photographs, I’ll be discarding someone’s future treasures. True, my daughter seems fairly indifferent to these things now, but there may come a time when she won’t be. Plus, I have nieces and nephews, and some of them may someday have children. Someone may care. Heck, I don’t even have to look to future generations; I am absolutely certain that every one of my siblings who reads this post is thinking, “No-o-o-o-o! Not the pictures! Send them to me if you must, but don’t throw them away!”

But where to store this stuff? Would the attic be safe? If so, would it be a little too remote?

Where is the happy medium between cherishing the past, simplifying the present, and creating space for the future?

I’m interested in your thoughts here, but please, please, don’t tell me what you think I should be doing. You can tell me what you would do, or what you have done in similar situations, and I will gratefully read and reflect. Thanks!

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2 responses to “Friday Fragments 7: the fragments are in my closet…

  1. Oh boy oh boy. You know even after my big giveaway project it’s STILL occupying space in my mental What To Do file: all the paper mementos, how to store them, are they being neglected, what’s their eventual destination, do I believe in scrapbooks, etc etc. Even though I culled a lot of it, there’s still the stuff that has to stay. And identity issues all wrapped up in it. Happy mediums are so hard, too. Sending love for all of this, and lots of excitement (yay!!! confetti!) for the closet decluttering expedition, it sounds lot a lot of fun 🙂

  2. I save all photos. And I am grateful for past generations who saved photos. And more grateful to those who wrote names on the photos. Slightly less grateful to those who wrote names in black paper with black ink. Would be most grateful to someone with a machine that could help me read that writing so I could find out what where they were going on that ocean liner, and what ocean liner it was and who was there.

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