I’ve spent a lot of my life collecting. Comic books. Toys. CDs. DVDs. Books. Friends. Odds and Ends. Ties. Stamps. Quarters. Matchbooks. Hats.
When I was younger, my Grandmother (who never really understood *my* collections) would often ask “Why are you holding onto all this junk?” I would just shrug.
These days, I hold onto craft-pieces, some new, some half formed, some in the works, some completed. I have movies, and books and books and books, and games, and more ties…vests; I have hats and a music history library full of CDs.
These days, my wife (who I swear thinks she married a hoarder) asks me if I can “get rid of some of this crap.” I shrug, attempt to re-organize so I take up less acreage and get back to designing my would be EVA Foam armor.
My son likes to hold onto various pieces of paper that he writes things on. He holds onto bottle and juice tops, straws, little rocks, feathers, sticks that he finds while we hike; he picks up flowers, and those little throw-a-way toys from kid’s meals that seem to multiply like gremlins in an olympic pool. Toys. Oh dear lord, the toys. He holds onto his toys like they are little horcruxes, small parts of his kid soul that he’s scared to lose.
My wife and I both put it to him, “We know that you think that everything you touch is a holy artifact, but WHY are you holding onto those twist tops from the apple sauce pouches??”
He shrugs, stuffs the little green pieces of plastic into a ziplock bag and states sweetly, matter-0f-factly, “I dunno. I just like ’em.”
When we first went together to San Diego Comic-Con, as soon to be parents, as a couple, Deb and I decided to buy some art together–something that was ours and us, that we could enjoy together–to curate *our* taste. We walked out of that first Con with 3 or 4 pieces that we intended to frame and hang.
Several Cons later, we have a small (and yet growing) collection of art that we fully intend to get framed and to decorate our walls with. We don’t have the time, money, or energy (and to be honest, the real estate on our walls) to deal with any of it. But it’s all really *good* artwork, much of it original. But we hold onto it, in a little, red, cardboard box that sits on a side table near my wife’s computer.
We don’t ask each other about it; rather we gaze longingly at it, shake our heads at the clutter around the house and move on.
My wife is much more spartan when it comes to living than me. She’d rather do laundry every day than have an abundance of clothes; rather support our library system bi-weekly than join her husband in his forays to book buying frenzies at the local B&N. She, in many ways appreciates the digital download revolution, I suspect (though she understands the merits in owning *some* media in the real world).
She does, however, have a fetish for journals–a modest collection of ones that she filled growing up, and a few new ones that she goes back and forth on filling with her thoughts, dreams and food habits (it’s great watching her write longhand when it grabs her); she has a small cadre of photos and paper mementos from various points in her life that she managed to rescue from her mother and that didn’t vanish in a robbery years past.
She seems to collect shoes, but that might just be an illusion.
She has a small army of My Little Ponies. Some she found herself, thrifted or gifted, and more than a few sent from her mother in a loving reach to connect. Of the things that managed to survive Deb’s travels and her ongoing attempt to live simply have been the ponies. A bag and a plastic shoebox.
I suspect at some point, she considered why she held onto them. A piece of her mom? A love of the pieces of happiness from her childhood? Pony Power? I never really asked, not in earnest, and to be honest, if that conversation happened (and it probably did? At some point? I’m a horrible husband…), I may have not internalized it, or processed it. For a while, on pony talk, I may have glazed over…
I came home one day to find her playing with our son with a Junta of ponies, and a pink plastic castle, and a plastic pony hot air balloon, and both of them smiling, and neighing and having a good time of our apartment floor.
I don’t have any pictures of that–I just kind of stored the image in my head–in what Stephen King has referred to in his writing as a Memory Warehouse, back in the stacks with the color of our rug at the time (tanish-brown) and what side of the closet was mine (the right hand side), but adjacent to memories of finger feeding L’il D, and watching Deb nap with the baby on her chest.
We spent the day down in Carlsbad at Lego Land this Friday. We took a day off to be together, Deb, me and the boys. Deb took the day off, in no small part, to remember her mother, who we lost 6 years ago.
More than once during the day, I caught Deb smiling at the kids’ craziness, but there was sometimes something more. In my head, I saw her running amok in her own Memory Warehouse, skipping down the isles where she had a memory of dancing with her Mom and sister on a planter, or holding her baby brother, or hugging her Mom, or just laughing with abandon. Maybe it’s stored back behind that one time D’s diaper exploded in the airport and giggling at the babies covered in avocado.
We didn’t really take any pictures of the day. Instead, we just collected memories, like funny little pieces of plastic in a ziploc bag.
On the way back home, as the baby napped between bouts of harpy like shriek-crying, Deb shared a story with me and L’il D that I’d not ever heard her tell–of a story that her mom, Christine had shared with her of her mom’s childhood.
I chortled at the story–as young Deb had found something at the bottom of a seemingly random thing her mom had held onto since her youth; and how she had proceeded to tell her daughter of how she came by them.
When she finished, smiling, laughing softly, Deb looked into the rear view mirror at our son and said “That’s just one story about your Grandma Christine…I think you would have adored her.”
“Your mom?” he asked sleepily.
“Yeah, sweetheart,” Deb cooed, as she avoided a tailgater.
I looked at my wife, her cheeks glowed in the lights of cars.
“I’ll share more stories with you later, as I remember them, OK, honey?”
I’m sure she’s saved a few. I’m sure she has a collection of those stories. I’m looking forward to hearing them, as much as I’m sure our sons will, too.