Friday, August 19, 2011


I'm going to be living with my parents for some time. At least six months, if not longer. Aside from my time at university, I never really moved out and much of my stuff remains as it was in my bedroom. Knick knacks that have no practical use yet retain meaning, abound. A souvenir key ring given to me by my best mate when I was seven (you know who you are) has sat on the shelf or in the drawer since that time. It's hardly a showpiece and I'm not going to start using it now so it seems destined to be shunted from shelf to drawer to box for the rest of my life.

I could take all the objects like this, shut them into a box and be done with it. That's what lofts are for. But to neither use nor dispose of them would be unsatisfying, lack resolution. Storage is for papers, not for objets d'art.

I've thrown out a lot. Several recycling boxes full of papers from school, university and general adolescence. The handouts went, my essays stayed. Much unnecessary baggage has gone. It felt good to dispose of the Pilsner Urquell bottle that I brought back from Prague at a time when it was still exotic in the west (or was it beer that was a novelty to me?) But what of the pebble I carried round in my pocket every day when I was at sixth form? Or the bullet shells my best friend and I used to dig out of the chalk on a second world war firing range at Devil's Dyke? They're part of the story but they have no particular place to go.

Of course, once I have deconstructed my life (my stuff?) it will be time to reconstruct it. I have 10 thirty kilogram boxes of stuff that we shipped over from Taiwan. Not to mention four unopened boxes of wedding presents that have patiently awaited our return.

My parents have been setting things in order too. Disposing of those books that never held any great interest, papers from many years of activity as upstanding pillars of the community, even some of the bank statements that tell my dad what he was spending his money on when he went up to Oxford in the late 1950s.

Like the dust of ages, stuff accumulates year by year. Like life, it's about the journey not the destination.

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