Things You Can’t Throw Away

It’s the early stages of packing up our house for a big move to Chicago. Every time we’ve moved — which is a considerable amount — we’ve gone through the same process, purging and packing. A lot of books.

No, more books than you were just thinking.

Okay, now add some more books to the amount you adjusted to.

Nope, there’s still more. But you tried your best. Nice effort, though.

Besides the aforementioned reading material, it’s amazing how much plain ol’ debris gets collected over the course of ten years. From crumpled receipts that probably should have been filed to empty Scotch tape dispensers, there’s just a lot of trash to sift through. And it’s not like we live in a junk heap, it’s just those stupid things that fall behind the shelf or get kicked under the couch and you always think, “I’ll get that later.”

Suddenly, later is now.

Yesterday I came across a plastic bin full of papers in file folders. I had just finished cleaning out a filing cabinet, sorting old tax returns and other useless paperwork for shredding. I looked at the bin and figured there was more. Sigh. Okay, let’s do this. The first paper turned out to be a drawing by my now 26-year old daughter when she was little. And right behind it, another one. There were thick stacks of crayon-covered doodles from all our kids, twenty plus years of robots, bugs, stick people, weird faces, entire comic series, and some what-the-hell-is-that kind of stuff.

I realized what’s been happening. Through years of multiple moves around the country, we’ve continually come upon these folders (now bins) of drawings and said to ourselves, “We really need to sort through these and just keep the really good ones.” Which sounds fine in theory, but when I start the process I can’t help but ask myself, which ones are the really good ones?

And I can’t decide. It’s impossible. Even the mostly blank, creased piece of printer paper with one orange squiggly in the corner — I can’t do it. There’s nothing to throw away here.

So I do what we’ve always done. I grab a bigger bin.


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One response to “Things You Can’t Throw Away”

  1. […] sorting while packing. I found a file folder with some ancient papers from the ’90s. That’s the 1990s, kids. […]

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