My local Council is having a kerbside collection day – a day where residents put out their unwanted household items that are too big to go into the usual bins. I find the whole event fascinating and amusing as I wait for scavengers to take items away before the Council arrives. My old TV lasted 2 days. You can take bets on how long your neighbour’s items will sit on the kerb before someone’s trash becomes another person’s treasure. It’s also an insight into your neighbours’ lives. What’s their threshold for unworthiness – a sofa with barely a thread left or one that’s hardly worn? A hint of nostalgia sets in as some items look familiar – children’s bikes, wading pools.
I recently quit my job so I had plenty of time to spring clean my house. I’m not much of a hoarder, except for financial documents (a blessing, it turns out, as I have been through a divorce) and I’m not very materialistic, so not much ended up by the kerb. Piles in front of other houses made me wonder how anyone fitted into those houses. The beams must be breathing a sigh of relief.
It has been a month of nostalgia for me. My son is turning 21 so I have been flicking through photo albums and his childhood paintings and cards. I remember how shy he was in primary school and take great delight in seeing how he has grown into a driven, ambitious and adventurous young man. While going through the album I found a cartoon my economics teacher had distributed to the class with a caption about me that he had added ( “Mandy in 1984″). I had been searching for this for months thinking it had been discarded in a previous house move. I guess I like it for a number of reasons. I was flattered that my mentor singled me out for such attention, that he realised I could laugh at myself, that he saw the person not just the student – and it’s funny. Plus I haven’t really changed that much. I can spell “typasts” typists now though. Finding this item gave me great delight.
Have you ever thought about why you have hoarded certain things over the years? The small things you haven’t been able to part with. How time and time again you have surveyed your knickknacks and been unable to part with them because they just might come in handy one day! The baby book you wished you’d filled in with greater dedication (if only you’d had the time). How I wish I’d kept concert tickets as souvenirs. I have postcards from a friend now deceased; I laugh every time I read them and remember her sparkling character.
Happy memories make us more resilient to hard times. We can recall events that put a smile on our faces and that smile gives us some relief from a bad day. Of course some items like love letters from a failed relationship may be better off in the bin – or do they remind us that there were some good times and some adoration?
When visiting recycling shops I’m reminded that the old can be made new again – old LP records and videotape cases turned into handbags and sold for a fortune when they should be sold for a song! Who would have thought?
My son will certainly be surprised when the tooth fairy returns his baby teeth on his 21st. The things we do!!!
Image #1: “BCC Kerbside Collection 2010 (West End)” by lightsight. Creative Commons Flickr. Some rights reserved.
Image #2: “BCC Kerbside Collection 2010 (West End)” by lightsight. Creative Commons Flickr. Some rights reserved.
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