“You are the enemy of archaeology!” I once yelled at my mother.
I think I was fourteen or fifteen, and in one of her periodic “throw random things away” moments she must have gotten rid of something I had wanted to keep. “It’s people like you that will make it hard for future archaeologists to piece together our civilization!” I cried.
Yeah, I was a big nerd even then.
My mother hates clutter. Even now, every time she comes to visit me, she brings a box or two of random things she doesn’t want anymore. (Some of which are old possessions of mine mouldering in her basement, some of which she must think I can use, like silicon muffin cups or a new design of vegetable peeler.) She once showed up at one of my concerts with a large bag of socks. She’s always trying to get rid of the stuff she spends much of the rest of her time accumulating.
I’ve always thought this was a reaction to her mother, my grandmother, who was a MASSIVE packrat. Grammy was a bargain shopper, and would stock up on things like sewing machine needles when they were on sale, then forget about them. After she passed away I inherited her sewing machine and supplies. I still have fabric and sewing notions (zippers, thread, bra closures) that she must have purchased in the 1970s.
I tend to be more on the Grammy side. I don’t like throwing things away. I feel like I’m losing my memories when I do. I think, “Yeah, maybe I *don’t* need that, but how are the archaeologists of the future going to know that I was in that concert if I don’t keep the programme?”
But you know what? Fuck it.
Today I cleaned out my desk and threw out a whole raft of old Christmas cards, concert programmes, odds and ends that have no meaning for me any more and are just being carbon sinks in my desk. Into the recycling. I don’t need the recital programmes of people I dated in university. I don’t need a postcard from someone whose last name I can’t remember anymore. I don’t need a thank you note from someone whose ballet exams I played for in 2002. Because that stuff just weighs you down, and because I don’t really care if future archaeologists can tell who I dated or knew or worked for. Doesn’t matter. They can figure it out from someone else’s trash.
I’d rather have a clean desk and a clearer mind.