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Thursday, September 25, 2008

The great purge

I'm moving out of my parent's house in two days. I've moved out before, but this is the first time I've moved out with the intention not to be coming back at the end of the semester. I'm also moving to a degree that I've never done before. When I went off to school, I left most of my "stuff" and furniture here. Now, everything that can go with me is going. My mom said she wants my room "cleared" when I leave, or shortly thereafter. God only knows what kind of obnoxious decorating ideas they have for it after I'm gone.

Clearing one's room out to move is a chance for a great many things, and I have decided to enact a great purge. There are so many things that I've kept, unused and unwanted, for so long. Now is my chance to rid myself of these weights once and for all. Growing up, my father was an absolute packrat, who couldn't stand to throw anything away that perchance might contain some utility. He would keep old broken furnature and lighting fixtures with the half-hearted promise that he would try to fix them some day. He would store furniture for people who needed a little extra space, long after it was clear those people were never coming back to collect their items. We still have furniture from my uncle in the basement, that we've had since he divorced his wife and moved into a small apartment: over 10 years ago. We have entire areas in the basement filled with broken lawn furnature, or incomplete bed frames. We have a garage filled with pieces of scrap wood and piping from jobs long since completed, cabinets and chests filled with tools nobody remembers how to use, and closets filled with cleaners that are so old that their labels have since worn off. Now, the only way to find out what is in those bottles is to spray them and see what comes out. Our shed contains all sorts of overflow, two gasoline power generators (one is irrepairably broken), a power-washer sidwalk cleaner (we no longer have a pressure washer that I know of, and we've never had a sidewalk here), two snow blowers (neither of which work), a metal grinder wheel that isn't connected to a motor, and a thin veneer of discarded tools that never made it back into their appropriate drawers. My dad, in short, never found a piece of garbage he wouldn't try to store forever.

My mother was the polar opposite: She was a ruthless cleaning machine. When she got into one of her modes, there was nothing to do but watch in horror as all sorts of things went flying into the trash can. She would point and say "what is this?", but wouldn't care what it actually was. In my mother's world there was, as she was fond of saying, two categories of stuff: keep and trash. If something wasn't in the keep pile, it was in the trash pile. If we didn't know what it was, or what it was for, or when the last time we used it, it was most certainly not in the keep pile. It wasn't long ago when my mom threw away a car recall notice that I received from Honda because she wasn't sure if it was junk mail or not, and the default setting for all mail is junk. If I am not the first person to make it to the mailbox, chances are good I will never see most of my mail.

Like all people, I've picked up some traits from both parents. Like my mother, I tend to view things in terms of their utility, and I do throw enough away to keep from getting cluttered. Like my father, I have a tendency to hoard certain types of things, like CD cases or Videogames (and their related paraphernalia). Digging through my drawers I found a new collection of Windows 3.1 install disks (eight floppies in all) sealed in their original bag. How many people do you know that still have that laying around? I found two new, unopened, printer cartridges for printers that we don't even own anymore. Research papers left over from school that I'm never going to read again, clothing in the bottom of my drawers that isn't even mine. There's lots of weird crap in my room that's managed to stay out of harm's way for years, and now it's all going the way of the dodo.

I'm off to do some more packing now, I'm sure I'll be back with stories.

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