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.