Monday, July 27, 2009

this year I sort

Last summer we arrived home with suitcases full of junk and threw it all in plastic bins in a corner closet in my parents' basement. We dug around and took more junk back to Colombia. We didn't sort anything, not in any way that you could really call it sorted. Things were together, undivided. United stuff.

This summer I decided to organize. Organizing is not my forte unless it involves putzy multicolored post-it notes and labels and, well, I lost my post-it notes cube. But I thought: this summer, I can pack my books with books, clothes with clothes, shoes with shoes. In theory, this is a great idea. But what it means in practice is that I unpack every plastic bin and start making piles that shift and take new shapes as more boxes are unearthed and unpacked. And in the middle of tossing a shirt on this pile and a ceramic mug on that pile, I wonder why a shirt and ceramic mug were packed in the same box as my old yearbooks and an empty picture frame.

I do not want to be doing this next summer.

So. I have my winter clothes in two bins. I didn't keep much when we moved to Colombia but I have favorites sweaters and jackets and winter running gear stored, and a pair of Doc Martens boots I've worn since college. I now have a bin of maternity clothes that I will clearly label in case I need my mom to ship me stretchy pants and big tops. There is a box of pots and pans too heavy to balance the expense of shipping them when I can just buy another set in Kuwait. There are a few boxes of books, already cut to a quarter of what I owned before moving abroad.

And then there are my memories. Oh, these boxes are crammed. I keep too much. My entire high school experience is journaled in pen pal letters I never mailed. I have Valentine's Day cards given to me at third grade class parties. Movie stubs. Dried flowers. A small wooden box that my mom bought for me on a trip to Germany when I was young, its lid and sides detailed with rosemaling. One of my first chunky attempts at throwing a bowl in pottery class. I looked at those boxes and thought: no way. Instead, I'm adding a few of my Colombia memories to them: a business card for a restaurant we enjoyed, a scrap of paper with a phone number for a nice taxi driver I met, my Medellin half marathon bib number. Maybe that'll be my project next summer, to get lost in those boxes.

This summer, though, just making sure that shoes aren't tucked in the same box as my old gradebooks is enough.

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