Memoirs of a packrat

By Sara Harvey

I moved at the end of last month, and only when I was boxing everything up did I realize how much stuff I had-in addition to my memorabilia-that I don’t even use. My boyfriend remarked as he was helping me pack that I have too much stuff.  I knew he was right.

I was taught from a young age to store away things that held emotional weight. My kindergarten art projects, my third-grade account of visiting the Hershey factory and my first English paper all fell into this category.

I suppose I learned how to be a packrat from my dad. He has shelves from floor to ceiling in his closet piled high with receipts, loose change, plastic spiders and God knows what else.

As I transitioned into high school, I kept movie ticket stubs, wristbands from the carnival, dried flowers from homecoming and articles clipped out of Seventeen magazine that showed all the things you could do with an old sweater. I kept all my diaries, all my letters and all the notes that were ever passed to me in the hallway.

Suffice it to say that by the time I started college, I had amassed a library of memories. When I started packing to move into my dorm, I realized there was too much. I had been indiscriminate until that point, saving everything.  Some things are really worth holding onto, and others are probably best suited for Craigslist.

I think part of the problem was that I saved some things I thought I’d use later on.

There was the pair of size 7/8 flare leg jeans with embroidery down the leg that I wore to death. I loved them, but I couldn’t get them past my thighs anymore. There was the shoebox full of mix cassettes from eighth grade and the pair of super-chunky oxfords that I wore to my first concert (Eve6-go ahead and laugh). Common sense dictates these things are pretty useless unless you’re starting a museum of

your adolescence.

I pared it down, only keeping the things I thought would truly mean something later in life. It wasn’t easy. I was partially motivated by the knowledge that I could sell most of it at my family’s garage sale later this fall.

I started separating my belongings so I could finally make room for more important things (like archives of The Chronicle for my clip book). I counted, and I think I have 20 sweaters now instead of 40.

I should mention I’m an expert at packing boxes. My family has moved a lot. Word to the wise: Go to liquor stores if you’re looking for free, sturdy boxes. The Smirnoff and Svedka vodka boxes really are a plus if you’re a fan of liquor.

I have several boxes now full of stuff that someone else will be able to use. I threw away most of the letters and movie stubs, but my mom is holding tight to my kindergarten art projects.

I guess it’s really about knowing when to let go.

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