Trading Out Memories

I am a collector. Not a serious collector, maybe not even a collector as the term is generally understood.

I collect things; I collect books. I collect, with my things and my books, memories.

The simplest thing can have great sentimental value for me. Especially things that belonged to people that I loved.

For example, my late fiance died in 1994. A few months after he died, his mother decided to clear out his bedroom (he lived with her), and when we had a garage sale, most of it went out for sale. I admit, I bought a good part of it, including the love seat on which we'd spent many happy hours watching television and listening to music.

The love seat smelled like him. Even today, 15 years later, I can still faintly smell his scent, whether it's real or imagined, locked somewhere in my memory, evoked when I lean over and lightly inhale the fabric.

My tears, my memories are on that love seat. It's practically a shrine; I don't sit on it. I have not sat on it many times since I brought it to my home. It's sacred. It holds him, and it holds me, and I don't want to let that go, not even all this time later.

My favorite uncle and aunt died in 2000; they left me their things. I have carried around those things since about 2004. They reside in my garage; they've been in storage; some of them have made their way into my house.

This year, I decided to try to go through them and let some of them go.

The first time I tried, I opened the garage door, found a recipe that my aunt had written on the back of an envelope and teared up. And I closed the door again, and walked into the house, the envelope in my hand, and gave up for that day.

I recently began a new relationship, and he moved in about a month ago.
He keeps telling me that I can keep the memories without keeping the things. That I need to make room for us to make new memories. I don't disagree.

And I have actually gone through some of my things, some of their things, and I have managed to let some of them go, but the things carry the memories. So it's hard to let them go. As long as I have their things, I have a part of *them*.

Those things represent some good times from my past, and some good people from my past. Every time I have to decide what to let go and what to keep, it's like trading one memory for another.

I want *all* of them. I want to keep the good memories. And having something tangible tied into them makes them more real.

My adoptive mother died in 2005; my favorite aunt, her sister, died in 2000. Both died of Alzheimer's.

They couldn't remember; so I remember. And knowing that memories may or may not stay with us our entire lives makes me even more determined to remember, and not to forget. And, as a result, I hold on to things, and I'm having a hard time trading memories, letting go of old ones, and making new ones, although I've made little steps, so far, and I hope to continue. But so far, it hasn't gotten any easier.

So I continue weighing memories, and letting go of some, and retaining others, and each time I put something in the box to go to Goodwill or I put something in the trash, something that belonged to them, I feel as if I'm letting something important go. And what if I don't make a new memory to replace it? What if, in years to come, I don't remember either memory?
LadyofDreams LadyofDreams
51-55, F
1 Response Sep 20, 2012

Things are golden handcuffs. They bring us dear memories but also tie us to having too much stuff. I am beginning to sort my stuff and am paring down. I know how hard it is to give up something that means a memory or is associated with someone we loved. However, I realize I cannot be the keeper of all the keys and I must send it to a new home. Good luck, my dear.