Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Attic

Our home was built in 1937. Fifty-six years later I moved in. Twenty-two years later I am still there. It would not surprise me to learn that I have lived there longer than any other individual.

When I turn 81 years old I will have lived there for 56 years myself. All things going the way they do, this is a thing that will happen.

Our home has a walk-up attic. It could theoretically be turned into another room. At present it is used as intended, as a storage space. In the past is has been well-organized. Since we started having children, it has become a repository for things for which no one has a use, but do not have the emotional fortitude to dispose of.

Clothes, stuffed animals, magazines for preschoolers, and stacks and stacks of “work” from Montessori school.

This season, as it has been continually cool, I have been doing the good work, sorting and reclassifying materials. The wife has neatly organized boxes of material from her studies which more or less remain where they are, or have been stacked higher in accessible but out of the way spaces.

The children are old enough to participate in decisions about their materials, which can be classified as recyclable, to-be-sold, or stored for future consideration.

And then there are my boxes, which perhaps take up the greatest share of space, and for which “Stored for Future Consideration” is an age old classification covering cassettes from childhood, magazine graphics from adolescence, notebooks from college, and the marketing materials from three or more theater companies.

Walking into my attic is like walking into my brain. And that can be a very unhappy place to visit. I cannot look at a thing without remembering a moment, and without warning suddenly find myself, as the man said, unstuck in time. Listen:

Twenty-fifteen has been significant in ways intensely personal and I have finally, at long last, come to that point in my life where it has become necessary to divest.

These items have no value, to anyone. There will be no future biographer for whom these items will create any interest. Descendants - my children - will not know what to make of them. Newspapers, magazines, tokens, damaged posters, novelty postcards, VHS tapes of television specials, cassette recordings of compact discs, trinkets whose origin simply isn’t interesting, even to me.

I file photos. Photos and programs (programs to performances I have attended - those dozens of programs from show I produced are now reduced to a few apiece for archival purposes) and articles relevant to me, these are boxed and labeled and stored. But already I have disposed of boxes and bags of useless junk.

It feels good. It feels so very good. I don’t want to see them anymore. I don’t want them cluttering up that space above my head. My attic. My brain. And then there is space. And I miss space.

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