The Things We Keep

Back in September, Matt and I went to Virginia to get the rest of our stuff that had been sitting in a storage unit since 2015 when we went to England. 

We rented a box truck knowing that the volume of stuff was pretty high — we remembered the 10×10 storage unit was pretty full.  Other than some big furniture pieces, though, we just didn’t remember with what.

The contents, it turned out, were a testament to both our sentimentality and our practicality. 

The bulk of the space was taken up by a dining room hutch (which we’ll use in our new house as soon as I sand it and refinish it), Bridget’s childhood dresser (which was my childhood dresser and my mother’s before me and I will therefore keep it until I die because I cannot be the one who got rid of it), and boxes upon boxes upon boxes of books (baby books and grown-up books, textbooks from Matt’s masters program, and ALL my Russian language books from DLI).  Items worth saving.

The sentimental pieces I discovered with varying degrees of joy: a baby blanket embroidered for Bridget by a friend’s mom who has since passed away brought tears to my eyes; the entire box of trophies, plaques, and ribbons from swim, baseball, and soccer teams I wanted to throw right in the dumpster at the storage place (sadly Matt told me I couldn’t so they are currently still in the box in my garage because I’ll be DAMNED if I’m bringing that stuff in my house).

There were snow shovels, which was good I guess because we live in New England now and we’ve already used them and it saves us going to buy new ones.  Frugality for the win!

There were six full-size pieces of sheet rock that were leftover from when we finished our basement in Virginia in 2011.  I am not sure why we kept those, for surely we should have donated them to ReStore or something.  But we didn’t and because we paid $100/month for three years to store them so I’m keeping them now on principal and I’m sure we’ll need sheet rock for something eventually.

There were boxes full of cords and random chargers for who-knows-what and tops of tupperware containers and half-used rolls of tape that reminded me sharply and suddenly of the chaos of the last few weeks before we moved to England, when earnest sorting and packing morphed into stuffing shit in boxes and dumping those boxes in storage because we ran out of energy and caring.

There were boxes of Halloween decorations and Christmas decorations which we’ve since unpacked and greeted like old friends; the chorus of “remember this?” and “my FAVORITE!” and the small joy in the realization that trimming the new holidays with memories of the old makes yet another transition a degree or two easier.

All these things we stored for three years and then dragged from dusty piles and loaded, sweating and swearing, into a rented truck and lugged 500 miles from Virginia to Boston in a box truck on I-95: the stuff we couldn’t part with–can never part with–because it brings to mind tiny babies who are now high school freshmen and people we loved that are gone now, the stuff that is really too useful to get rid of and we’ll-probably-need-it again-anyway, the stuff that was trash when we stored it away but we were too tired to care and so we pushed off dealing with it for a year or three.

A balance between the precious and the practical, the useless and the priceless, these things we keep.

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