All that you can’t leave behind

June 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

My sentimental miscellaneous isn’t this pretty.

I know memories – people, places, emotions long passed – aren’t captured in the objects we associate them with. They’re stored in our minds/hearts/as chemical signals, depending on how crushingly realistic you like to be about these things. I freely admit that I’m that girl whose flat gradually becomes a cityscape of towering book-buildings, edged by clothing-mountains, until something really serious (passport, keys, a small animal) gets lost and a major spring clean commences. But while I might be more of a hoarder than your average person, perhaps even more sentimental, being unable to throw away essentially worthless and useless junk is pretty common, and very human.

There’s that trinket which is a horrendous reminder of my equally horrendous pre-teen taste; but a friend I long ago lost contact with bought it for me. There’s a whole stack of cards from my grandmother, because she’s old and I worry I’d regret not saving every scrap of her and her beautiful old person handwriting.
And this has only got worse in the digital age. It should be so easy now all of our photos and correspondence can be stored on one device. But virtual clutter, in which important documents can just as easily get lost as on a messy desk, is no less stressful than its physical counterpart. Not only that, but there seems to be so much more stuff – every single event is documented on camera, emails are hourly whereas letters were weekly. And even though the generic font should be cold, I still find myself unable to delete old emails. My mistake is not to rid myself of them when they’re fresh – if I go back two, three years later, I’m confronted by nicknames which aren’t used anymore, and even the most mundane request becomes a little piece of my history.
I try, because you can’t take it with you, and clutter makes me feel weighed-down, and it’s not as though I ever actually regret deleting these messages in the end – they’re so trivial that they’re forgotten within the hour. But I still often resort to cheating myself (isn’t that the strangest thing?), copying and pasting the email contents into a computer document and then deleting the original. So, on my list of things to invent: The Automatic Unimportant Correspondence From Friends and Relatives Deleter. Anyone good at writing software?

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