The Flotsam And Jetsam Of My Life

DSCN1593“Flotsam and jetsam: Useless or discarded objects; odds and ends.”

TheFreeDictionary.com

I’ve been cleaning my room lately. First I reorganized my bookshelves (and donated a bunch I didn’t want anymore), then I cleaned out my closet and dresser, and now I’m working on my desk.

I have always been a rather messy person.

Now, I’ve never been the kind of person who has, like, clothes strewn all over the floor and half-eaten sandwiches under my bed, but I’ve always had a tendency to… spread my stuff all over the place. And I can be kind of a pack rat.

So yeah, my room was desperately in need of tidying. And I will admit, I’m proud of how tidy certain parts of my room look right now. (Even though they probably won’t stay that way for very long.)

But that’s not the most satisfying part.

The most satisfying parts are the memories.

I sorted through a lot of my old stuff last weekend, and a different memory was attached to each and every object. To be honest, as a writer I was pretty amazed by the extent to which everything had its own story.

Stories I hadn’t thought of in years. I’d packed up a bunch of stuff in a huge box the last time I did a super-thorough room cleaning (age fourteen/four years ago, if you were wondering), shoved it into my closet, and then forgotten about it.

And then I opened it and remembered. While sorting through all the stuff, sometimes I thought about a particular memory for only a few seconds, but some objects made me stop and think, “Hey. That was a thing that happened in my life, and it was pretty cool. I should use it in a story.”

It’s not that those memories were boring. That’s not why I’d forgotten about them. Small occurrences just get lost in the bigger event of life, I guess. Those small memories (and the objects that go along with them) are the flotsam and jetsam of my life, and there’s just too many of them for me to remember for very long, so they drift away.

It’s hard to explain why I think this is cool. It just is. I suppose it’s because I love stories and, well, life is a story. And these little objects/memories are random tangents in that story. They’re the equivalent of single sentences in a huge book, really. They may not seem very important on their own, but en masse they’re absolutely necessary to the larger story because they make up the background detail. They’re as integral to a story as they are integral to me, even if I haven’t thought of them in years.

(And I got rather philosophical just now, didn’t I? I’m sorry if that startled anyone. I’ll go back to my regular fangirlish nonsense after this post, I swear.)

All those exciting happenings, embarrassing memories, old friends, crushes, people I couldn’t stand… it’s kind of amazing how many stories-as-memories flooded into my mind as I found, say, a hat or a softball or a postcard in that box. MUNDANE stuff. But also stuff that can be used in future stories – the sort that I write down on paper. Or, well, on a computer. As the case may be.

And then I packed up most of this stuff in a different huge box and gave it away. Loads of old toys, books, clothes, et cetera. (There’s some kind of end-of-childhood metaphor to be found there, I’m sure. I gave so much away and stored most of the rest in the basement. I don’t need it anymore.) I have to say that giving away the toys and craft kits really made me think, because I was SO INTO that stuff when I was little. But I’m not now. I’ve grown up. I used to love make-your-own-jewelry kits and tiny animals molded out of plastic, but I don’t now. I found other interests.

And it’s weird, because I don’t remember when that happened. I can’t pinpoint exactly when I stopped being the sort of person who loved my little-kid things and thought about them all the time, and started being the sort of person who likes photography and journalism and Tolkien. My story’s really changed, hasn’t it? It’s taken a different course now.

IT’S A PLOT TWIST.

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About nevillegirl

Elizabeth, University of Iowa class of 2019. Double majoring in English & Creative Writing and Journalism. Twenty-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, and aspiring writer. Passionate about feminism and lesbian positivity.
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12 Responses to The Flotsam And Jetsam Of My Life

  1. Cait says:

    YAY! PLOT TWIST. To be honest, I’m not really emotionally attached to anything from my childhood, apart from the fact that I just don’t want anyone else to touch it. 😉 I’m possessive instead of emotional sometimes. *hides in embarrassment* My room is usually notoriously clean except for my desk which is ART. It’s nice to have memories attached to things, though.

    • nevillegirl says:

      YAY FOR PLOT TWISTS. 😛
      Well, apparently neither am I! I couldn’t believe I’d kept so much of my old stuff when I last cleaned my room, because last weekend I was just like, “This? Nah, don’t need it. That? Nope.” I used to be so into that stuff but now I have no real attachment to it… I guess that’s part of growing up. 🙂

      HAHAHAHAHA my desk is always sooooooo messy. It’s REALLY messy now because I’m sorting through a bunch of old papers and notebooks and stuff, but it ALWAYS has stuff stacked on top of it. Usually BOOKS.

  2. matttblack42 says:

    I love going through all my old things. It makes me all sad, but a happy type of sad, if that makes sense.

    Heehee, a plot twist. I love it when they happen in real life. (Spoiler alert: you are actually trapped inside a giant snowglobe. Well, it’s actually a regular sized snowglobe currently residing on my desk, and you and everything around you are shrunk down to the size of ants. Very tiny ants, to be more specific.)

    • nevillegirl says:

      Yeah, that does make sense. 🙂

      Please don’t shake that snowglobe, then. O_o So the ants in my little snowglobe world are actually very very very very VERY tiny ants?! Mind = blown.

  3. I love the life/story parallel. It’s so true about the small stuff. They do matter. Sometimes, they’re some of the most beautiful moments.

  4. Love this post! And when I clean my room, the same thing inevitably happens – it takes 19 million times longer because I get out all my old stuff and look through it.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Thank you so much! 🙂 Ehehe, it takes even LONGER when I sort through old books because I’m like, “Oh, this is a short book. I’ll just read the whole thing and then get back to work!” *is easily distracted*

  5. moosha23 says:

    BAM! Aww, I love this post so much. Not only did you manage to do the whole extended metaphor abracadabra on LIFE but you also spun us some philosophical musings (those are the best, esp in moderation :P). I agree, I remember just yesterday feeling like I’m so not the person I was two years ago. Whoa. That’s big. And a few seconds before reading this post I was thinking about change within myself and how little that is in comparison to change in the world, and how little that is in the change within the whole history and future of the world. Whoa.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Aw, thank you so much! *blush* I do like writing thinky-er posts every so often. 😛

      I’m not the same person I was even two years ago, either! Sixteen-year-old me was… still quite clueless about so many things. Gah.

  6. Mo says:

    It would seem that, in comparison, I am a freakishly neat person. xD
    To begin with, we’ve moved a lot. My family has moved from state to state every few years, and we get rid of a lot of stuff when that happens. So, to be honest, I don’t have a lot of childhood stuff left over. Sure, there’s a bunch of photos from when I was wee, and I have a baby box, but there’s really not a lot in the way of toys and books from when I was little.

    Second, I clean my room pretty frequently. I mean, sure, I make my bed and pick up clothes off the floor every few days (read as: I don’t have a chair in my room so I throw clothes on the floor a lot) and take library books I’ve gone through downstairs, stuff like that. But I go through my papers (where most of my junk accumulates) every few months as well. I tend to go through my other stuff at that time, too, but I’ve gotten to the point where there’s really not a lot I want to get rid of. I’ve more or less pared down my belongings to what I really, really want to own (in the way of books and clothing).
    But good for you for doing all that cleaning! And it is always interesting to see who you were and what you did years or even months ago.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Pffft, probably. 😛
      Are your parents in the military, or do they move around for some other job…? Or, what the heck, maybe you just move a lot because you like it? xD

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