ImagePhoto: Patrick Ng via flickr.com

I spent my Saturday clearing out shelves in my room. As I was going through the boxes I remembered I have a slight problem of becoming too attached to anything and everything even remotely sentimental. I have piles of sketches and doodles done by friends or myself over the years; I have cards and pictures, books, even photo IDs (library cards), bank cards, and gift cards no longer valid but a crucial reminder of a time in my past. I think I have always been the sentimental type with such things but it got worse (or better, however one might choose to look at it) as I began to travel a lot. Ever since I was sent to boarding school half way across the world when I was fifteen, the value of each little piece of paper that reminded me of someone or something multiplied tremendously. I have little sheets of paper where I’ve scribbled down descriptions of people and things or revelations of my own feelings as events were unfolding. Going through them yesterday took me right back to those exact moments and I very much appreciated my own efforts in trying to preserve my past (albeit short past seeing as I am only in my twenties).

Everything in there was in a way a little part of my being. All those keepsakes have in their own ways shaped me into the person I am today. Going through what I have kept made me think of all those other special items I did not keep, like the handwritten letter this boy wrote to me in the 4th grade. This one was special because he passed away too young for his age and a family member of his told me that among his keepsakes was a picture of me he had ripped out of our school magazine. I had never gotten to know him but I identified with the sentimental part of his personality and that touched me. There were of course others, jewelry and particularly books from friends and family with little notes written on the front page, most of which I had lent out to people and never bothered enough to have them returned to me (I am terrible for asking my things back when I’ve asked once and the other person doesn’t seem to do so). I wonder where these things may be now. Destroyed? In some landfill? In another part of the world? Or as my hopeful part whispers, cherished by someone else in the world. I hope the latter.

Of course getting emotional right at the beginning of my spring cleaning did not help, every little space I had hoped to make on the shelf for my newer things is still perfectly occupied by all the significant little keepsakes from my past.


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