One of the major reasons for the long duration of my trip to India is to help my parents downsize their belongings and declutter their home. (and possibly help them move in to a new place) My sister got started on the task back in January by labeling contents of different shelves when she visited with her adorable little daughter. Watching her mom label different shelves and boxes in the house she decided she had to contribute to the labeling effort. So when I arrived I saw the place peppered with labels like this:
When I started to clear out the contents of the shelves and boxes I wondered if I should pull out these labels – I knew my mom and dad would say, “It reminds us of her – Don’t touch these labels”. What is it about a stray piece of paper with a little child’s scrawl that makes it so memorable and instantly valuable?
We all have these small treasures of our past that hold meaning and value beyond what a layperson could attribute to it. As a reformed clutter bug, I am always looking to make sure that I don’t carry much clutter in my surroundings for fear of a relapse. I try to hold on to things that I can enjoy and use every day and let go of anything I think will make another person happier than it makes me irrespective of how expensive it is. This attitude has been painstakingly cultivated and every now and then I fall back into old habits and patterns. The one type of clutter that I do allow in my life in small doses, however, is sentimental clutter due to the fun of revisiting your past through them.
Back home in Chicago, I have a bin each for my husband and I to act as a catch all for any sentimental knick knacks we’d like to hold on to. My bin is already filled to the brim while PK’s bin has barely anything in it aside from a few picture albums (very symbolic of the kind of person he is – fairly detached). I had completely forgotten about my pre-2008 collections (I moved to the US in 2008) till I started to go through boxes of my stuff after I got here. When I found a dusty little orange handmade paper box during a decluttering session, I immediately knew it was going to be an interesting afternoon.
Navigating the box wasn’t the easiest of experiences because when it comes to memories not all of them are rose hued. But I was grateful to be able to revisit them nevertheless and happy to be adding to my collection back home some more cherished relics of my past.
The last Lego blocks I was able to salvage from a giant bucket of blocks that my brother got me from the US when I was 5 or 6 years old. Look at the guy at the back with a makeshift head!
The adorable greeting card my sister took the time to make for me when she was probably juggling a ton of coursework and grad school admissions.
The diary whose key I have lost and have no interest to recover. Wonder what trivial childhood troubles I have chronicled in here!
Accolades from school that I remember as being very special – Like the time I got Best Actress for playing an Italian witch during a school play or the time I narrowly lost out first place in a spelling bee or the time I received a rolling trophy for “All Round Efficiency” in my grade in high school.
The accolades that I don’t quite understand and in retrospect sound very amusing – Like a certificate for “Good behavior” and one for “Book Maintenance”. I don’t think I’ve ever received a certificate for good behavior after middle school and I have no idea what “Book Maintenance” means.
Adorable artwork from my other niece (now a beautiful, confident 15 year old!)
My Grandpa’s last letter in response to a birthday card I sent him from me and my siblings
My favorite childhood book. I must have read this book around a 100 times – I loved the entire Secret Seven series.
A program handout from a small concert where I sang “Amazing Grace”. One of the honorary guests at the show (himself a musician) came up to me and whispered, “Good Job Aretha” (as in the legendary Aretha Franklin, in case you’re not familiar with her) after the show. I was beaming all night. Seeing this piece of paper made me resolve to give my music a serious shot when I go back to the US.
A stash of extra tickets from a play I co-directed and acted in when I was in college. The show was staged at the prestigious Ranga Shankara theatre just weeks after its grand opening in Bangalore. It was quite the experience and I won’t ever forget how it felt that night after months and months of hard work had finally paid off.
My “Senior Prefect” badge in 12th grade – I don’t recall having any power in this “leadership” position. Just remember ushering little ones in and out of the auditorium for assembly every morning and telling them to sit quietly.
The most memorable concert I went to. To say I love Sting is a gross understatement – I love love love love the man. Before I left Chicago early this month, I bought a ticket to his show, “The Last Ship” in June. I can’t wait. The man is a legend and a genius and his silken voice doesn’t hurt at all. 🙂
Not sure how to end this awfully long post so I will leave you with this ravishing vintage picture of me from year 2000. Time travel sure is fun.