The corner of the basement where I keep my important stuff was starting to look like something from an episode of “Hoarders.”
I’d read a book about decluttering and getting rid of things that weren’t useful or meaningful, and came to a harsh realization: if the pile in the basement was a metaphor for life, my life had become a U-Stor-It.
Suddenly, I had the urge to purge.
I pulled half a dozen boxes out of the corner and instantly felt energized. I hadn’t seen that part of the basement floor for 20 years! Imagine getting rid of a box or two! Maybe all of them! I couldn’t remember the last time I’d opened any of those boxes; would I even miss them if they were gone?
Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we had to rent a Dumpster?!
I sat on the floor and made two piles -- “save” and “toss”. There would be no “I need to think about it” pile -- save it or toss it and move on.
That piece of bare floor sure looks nice.
I lifted the top off the first box and started pulling things out:
A postcard from a family trip to Duluth. Save.
A newspaper from the day Steven was born. Save.
A bulletin from a friend’s wedding. Save.
A friend’s obituary. Save.
Hundreds of items. Thousands. And that was just the first box.
My third grade report card. Save.
Father’s Day and birthday cards. Save.
A program from the 1985 All Star Game. Save.
The receipt for Carla’s wedding ring. Save.
It was a three-hour trip down Memory Lane.
A New York subway token. Save.
A ticket stub from a Garth Brooks concert. Save.
A photo of the Eiffel Tower. Save.
A Walter Mondale bumper sticker. Save.
By the time I reached the last item in the box (an autographed photo of Kent Hrbek. Save), the “save” pile was the size of the box it had come from.
The “toss” pile consisted of one business card and a cocktail napkin with a smudge of something that might have been barbecue sauce. I didn’t know the person whose name was embossed on the business card and couldn’t remember where the cocktail napkin had come from; both were once apparently important enough to keep. Darned if I could remember why.
I loaded the “save” items back into their box and carried the six boxes back into the corner without even opening five of them.
That bare spot of basement floor was gone again, but at least it was covered with things that were meaningful. That alone makes them worth keeping.
I think I’ll call and cancel the Dumpster.
Dan Conradt, a lifelong Mower County resident, lives in Austin with his wife, Carla Johnson.