Spring Cleaning In September
When what you hold dear
Starts to disappear
You can tell what you trust
By the things that you fear
You can look for me baby,
But baby I’ll be long gone
- Fiction Family, “Look For Me Baby”
Maybe things should be simpler. Does it always have to be so difficult to be an adult? Bills keep coming in and demanding the resources that you’ve traded in so much of your time, your very existence, in order to acquire. Surely life could be different than this, and if not, at least it could be simpler.
Maybe it’s more than just finances that cause worry. It was a long day at work, after all, that left me with the strange combination of being so tired that I just want to go home but so restless that when I get there I’m unable to stop moving yet unable to come up with an idea of what to do. Am I using my time well? And that’s what leads to being in the sun room, often just used as a storage room, throwing away just about anything that I could find. Getting rid of the clutter would make life simpler.
Maybe it’s those little trinkets that change my mindset. Honestly, I’m a pack rat, gathering and holding onto far more than I ever need, which of course is funny when combined with my desperate desire for simplicity. But those trinkets are important. They’re more than things. They are physical representations of memories; triggers for those things that had escaped the mind until that very moment. And they bring back things long forgotten that shift the attention from worry to recalling; from desperation to nostalgia. From restlessness to warmth. And it’s funny the items that cheer me up.
Maybe it’s the old college newspaper I was an editor for, back when writing was only something that I might get an extra school credit for.
Maybe it’s the DVDs that hold every video I’ve made, from high school and into college, back when video editing was a hobby and could never feasibly pay the bills.
Maybe it’s the Nike DriFit shirt I was given just a few months ago that I had been looking for, which seems simple and doesn’t have much emotional value, but raises questions as to why it ended up with so much stuff from years ago.
Maybe it’s the ticket to the 2011 Gator Bowl, carefully preserved, which not only serves as a reminder of a fun game but of one of those rare times all the siblings travel together (the photo of us all in the stands sits framed in my bedroom).
Maybe it’s the signed card from the basketball player I remember watching in 1996 who caused me to fall in love with the game and follow this nonsense obsession all the way into my adult life.
Maybe it’s the old notes gathered during college, some doodles during classes, some quick notes from girlfriends or crushes or people who had crushes on me.
Maybe it’s the highly detailed note from somebody meant for reading after graduation that was odd, awkward, and surprisingly encouraging to read, even years from then.
Maybe it’s the old photo of the 2007 Homecoming Court, when my hair was buzzed and my beard barely coming in.
Maybe it’s the invitation to my younger brother’s high school graduation, and the feeling of pride that I feel for him sweeping back in.
Maybe it’s the program from my own college graduation, reminding me that my girlfriend and I graduated from the same college on the exact same date but six years apart, which is neat.
Maybe it’s the few old pay stubs or deposit slips from past jobs, when $100 seemed like a massive amount of money to earn.
Maybe it’s the paper I wrote for some random class, profiling my older brother, which started by pointing out that at 27 going on 28, my current age, he was finally comfortably beginning his career.
Or maybe it’s getting a call from my best friend at 11:00pm, saying he’s at the front door. He’s working nursing night shifts and his sleep schedule is off, so he’s just woken up and bored right when I’m trying to finish decluttering so I can go to bed. But instead, we spend the next late hour doing what we did during the late hours when we lived next door in the dorms, talking about all those old things, old movies we made, old items we had, old CDs we listened to, old girlfriends. College seems like ancient history most of the time, until he says, “Wow, it was only six years ago?” and when we start to talk about our careers, that time seems like nothing at all.
So maybe it’s not money or bills that concerns me, but rather the fear that right now, as a man closing nearer and nearer to the age of thirty, that I should have been more established by now. The fear that I should be in a more comfortable position. The fear that maybe I passed my prime without ever noticing it. The fear that I’m only in my twenties but I’m already done.
Maybe my fears have been right so far. But most likely not. Because those trinkets and that random late night visit did far more than bring back fond memories. They served to remind me of all I’ve been through, all I’ve done up to this point, and one major lesson seemed clearer than ever:
I’ve weathered many storms, fought many battles, celebrated countless successes, and I’m nowhere near done yet.