The Things We Keep

I've never considered myself a pack rat. My dad? Yes, he was a pack rat. My sister? Yes, she is a pack rat. Me? Eh. Not so much. I don't really get attached to "things". I don't collect ticket stubs or programs. I don't hang on to birthday cards. I don't let old magazines pile up. I don't keep newspapers lying around or crusty half-used bottles of nail polish. I don't stuff Banana Republic bags in my closet for some unforeseen critical future use (like some people).

But when I looked around F's immaculately staged condo and noticed the alarming lack of personalization, I realized it's the "clutter" in our lives that make our habitats interestingly human. And when I looked around my own apartment, I realized I have a lot more clutter than I thought.

The snapshots lined up in my living room, the outdated pictures of Owen plastered to my refrigerator, the special Christmas card tucked inside my junk drawer, the boxful of random postcards, the love notes stashed in my night stand, long forgotten business cards from hair stylists and travel agents in Lincoln, maps and pamphlets from various state parks, scribbled recipes that have never been attempted, a symphony schedule from LAST season, coupons for Kroger and Bed, Bath & Beyond, tile samples from a project finished long ago...All things I clearly don't need to hang on to...and yet, for some reason, I have. As if someday I'll suddenly need to get a hold of that travel agent in Lincoln, or it'll be imperative that I know the length of the Stony Ridge Trail in Hocking Hills State Park, or I'll be hit with a streak of ambition to cook! Who knows?! Maybe I'll need to refer to those love notes someday for some reason. Maybe I'll need to be reminded that someone was thinking of me when they sent me that postcard. And tile samples! c'mon! Who in their right mind would get rid of tile samples!?

We keep things for a reason. Maybe the thing means something to us. Maybe it used to mean something to us. Maybe the thing is a reminder. Or a security blanket. Or a placebo. Or a blindfold. I guess I'm more of a pack rat than I thought I was...

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