A couple months back, I got a call from my mom letting me know that she had come across a couple of boxes full of old keepsakes that clearly belonged to me. Several years ago, I let her know that, as a rule, if I don’t know about it, then I won’t miss it. But she felt the need to inform me of these particular boxes because they contained the pieces of paper that say I got a couple of Bachelor’s Degrees from Bluefield College and a high school diploma from Patrick Henry High School.
Yeah, those things might be important to hold on to.
At some point, probably around the same time I told Mom that if I don’t know something still exists I won’t miss it when it’s gone, she accused me of not having a sentimental bone in my body. Well, that’s mostly true. There are very few objects in this world that I would deem important enough to hold onto simply for sentimental value. The ornament from Dad’s casket… high school yearbooks… my great-grandmother’s Bible (even though it’s a King James Version)… These are just a few of the very few things.
I got those boxes on a trip into Roanoke not long after Mom informed me of their existence. And, I’m embarrassed to admit, they’ve sat in the middle of my bedroom floor ever since then. I’ve been walking around them without taking the time to look through them even a little.
By the way, the middle of my bedroom floor has been reserved for a number of Christmas presents that I haven’t gone through, either. These are Christmas presents that, I’m embarrassed to say, sat in the trunk of my car until I needed room to go and pick up these boxes of keepsakes from Mom’s house.
Anyway, last night I finally decided I was tired of wading around boxes and bags of keepsakes and gifts. I started going through those boxes and found a number of things that I absolutely do not need. I found a number of things that I absolutely will not ever need.
There are plaques from my college years. They congratulate me on various achievements, such as: winning the title of Baron at a Bluefield College Spring Formal; being named to the Homecoming Court at Bluefield College. I also found a number of certificates congratulating me on various achievements, such as: being named to Who’s Who Among America’s Colleges & Universities; recognition of time served as a class representative in student government. Why do I need these things?
There is a shocking number of VHS tapes. For the Millennials among us, a VHS tape was what we had before DVDs were a thing. Before the DVR, we would record television shows onto these tapes if we could ever figure out how to get the VCR clock to stop flashing 12:00 all the time. These tapes, which have been stored in boxes for at least 15 years, are mostly not labeled. Which means that, barring a quick jaunt to 1997, I may never know what some of these VHS tapes contain. The only ones I know of for sure, but will probably never watch, say “2003 Bluefield College Commencement” and “RVW/LSH.”
That last one is a video of a play we did at Bluefield College retelling Washington Irving’s classic short stories, “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” in which I played Rip Van Winkle. My one and only flirtation with acting.
I turned down the Tony that year. I’ll accept it when Tibet is free.
I found two copies of The Roanoke Times from October 9, 2006. Three days after Dad passed away. I assume these newspapers were kept because they would have held his obituary. However, as I looked through both copies of this newspaper, the section that was home to the obits was conspicuously missing. What’s the point of keeping those newspapers at this point?
Also, I came across a scrapbook of my life that, I’m pretty sure, my mother meant to keep faithfully over the years. Looking through it, I’m pretty sure she stopped keeping an accurate record about three months in. It does have a number of things that she or my dad added over the years: a brochure for Busch Gardens, circa 1987; two copies of a program from our church’s children’s choir Christmas concert and one from the previous year; a card I made for my parents.
By the way, I looked through those old Christmas concert programs. I sang a duet both years. With the same girl. Did I have a thing for that girl? I mean, I was 5 and 6… I’m pretty sure at that point I was still hung up on Angie Shrader.
Anyway, one of the things that my mom did choose to include in this scrapbook, before she stopped keeping up with it, was a lock of my hair. I’ll admit, it weirded me out a little when I saw that that’s what it was. But, at least I can rest in the knowledge that whoever ends up with this scrapbook can clone me someday.
A lot of these things that I’ve pulled out of these boxes, I kind of want to get rid of. The scrapbook? I kind of want to give it back to Mom. I feel like she’ll get more of the warm and fuzzies from it than I will. Those plaques from Bluefield? I suppose I could hang them on the wall of my office. I should probably brag about those kinds of things. And those certificates? I should probably get them framed. More bragging.
Mom’s right. I really don’t have a sentimental bone in my body. But, to me, maybe that’s a good thing. Because, to me, maybe that means that my life won’t be filled with a lot of clutter. I won’t be one of those guys who has to get a storage unit because I’m holding on to things simply for the sake of holding onto them.