I consider myself to be a bit of an expert in decluttering. I am ruthless with my own belongings, and not to brag, (okay, I’m totally bragging) but I’m extremely efficient when it comes to helping other people declutter their homes.
- Books I’ve finished reading? Pass them along to a friend, sell them or even post them as blog giveaways.
- Clothing I no longer wear? Consignment shop or Goodwill.
- Children’s toys? Hand down to new kids, consignment shops or Goodwill.
- Bulky household items? Put them on the curb with a “Free” sign.
- Duplicate kitchen implements? Goodwill, Goodwill, Goodwill.
I am a well-oiled decluttering machine.
So it took me by surprise when I experienced a overwhelming pang of nostalgia when going through my son’s juvenile fiction. Books that I had lovingly read aloud, page by page, snuggled in bed together. Always being begged for “One more chapter, please . . . ”
Just writing that sentence make my nose burn and my eyes start to water.
Mind you, these books were coated with dust and hadn’t been touched for years. I knew in my unfailingly logical mind that there is no circumstance where my son will pick these books up and read them to himself. And in the off chance that he did crave a reread of his Zilpha Keatley Snyder books, he could always check them out from the library.
But these books, these objects were infused with deep and overwhelming memories.
So why was I putting myself through such torture?
To begin with, my son’s bedroom was such an unholy disaster that it had become a physical hazard. Plus, my son has been driving me crazy with his constant “Mom, where’s my comb/purple shirt/glasses/whatevers” that intervention had become a necessity.
So armed with library audiobooks of Jackie Collin’s Married Lovers and James Joyce’s The Dubliners, I steeled myself against the emotional barrage. (Yes, I have eclectic taste in books.)
I kept certain authors and categories, (Ursula LeGuin, Pokémon, Harry Potter, John Bellairs, Japanese Manga) and pulled out the Beverly Clearys, the Susan Coopers, the Elizabeth Enrights and a myriad of random authors. I called my son to come upstairs and approve all decisions, as the last thing I want is for my son to feel like he has no control over his possessions and become a hoarder later in life.
He held onto the Susan Coopers and a few other books.
I was able to consolidate two bookshelves and even leave one shelf empty for the Japanese knick-knacks that my son has collected throughout his international travels.
I’ll attempt to sell the books at Powell’s Bookstore today, but so many are older editions and I don’t harbor high hopes that many will sell. The Zilpha Keatly Snyders will go to my niece and the rest I’ll donate to Goodwill.
I’m glad that I soldiered through this task. Yes, it was bittersweet, but I know that my son needs a room that meets his 17-year-old needs rather than functioning as an homage to his nine-year-old self.
And nothing can take away the memories of our late night reading sessions. I can hold onto those memories without holding onto the physical objects.
But there’s nothing wrong with shedding a tear or two in the process.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”