Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hoarder or Collector

In my writing workshop, we were asked to write about things we've saved that perhaps should have been thrown out. In the ten minutes we were allowed to write, I came up with:

  • Every postcard anyone has sent me
  • Every letter ditto ditto ditto
  • Every card celebrating every event in my life
  • Most emails since 1995
  • Many bad photographs of other people's children*
  • Many photos, good and bad, of other people's vacations
  • Most [Houston] Chronicle Sunday brides from the last 20 years
  • Boxes of books I will never read, but will go in my someday library to fill shelves
  • Every thing that has ever been on a refrigerator of mine, including the magnets 
I guess I save words and images.

For what? Because I can? Or because of the multi-volume biography that someone will write about me someday?

Postcards are understandable; I keep them in a big basket, and long-time friends and family pick through them to read about others' travels. Postcards once spawned one of my better essays - published even.

But really? I used to save every art magazine I had, every canister of sequins, every craft kit known to man because maybe . . . someday . . . I'd be an art teacher and I would need all of this for class projects. Guess what? I am never going to be an art teacher; at least not an everyday 9-5 kind of teacher, and anything I plan to teach at this point has vastly outgrown a canister of sequins.

Am I saving cards and letters as proof that people care about me? Proof that I exist for someone? Now as I wander into every-other-week-therapy topics, I think I'll stop.

And did I mention that I also save dead roses?

*If you are reading this and you have sent me a photograph of your child, I am not talking about you.