I got rid of a lot of things, but I kept some. I don’t know why, and I don’t know what the criteria was for deciding what to keep. I don’t know that I even knew I was keeping stuff, maybe I just forgot that it had anything to do with the whole mess. But things take on meaning when you keep them; ask a hoarder. Nobody keeps something because they need it. We don’t actually need much really. But we keep something because it will mean something later, because we kept it.
I don’t know why I have photos. I can remember perfectly well what it felt like and most of what it looked like without the disappointing details, and I don’t even want to remember. George had a green shirt on, Anna had a cold sore, that was the day the rain came down hard, that was the day my heart stopped. I don’t need pictures to remember that.
I don’t know why I have birthday cards, they all say the same things. Everybody hopes it’s a great one, some of them had money inside but I don’t know which ones. Things stack up because we don’t want to feel the meaninglessness of throwing something away. When you throw something away it’s worthless, even if it’s not. I’ll never see any of my old coworkers again but I didn’t throw away the birthday card they gave me because they’re not worthless. Just gone.
But you know, if someone came in and cleaned out under my bed I wouldn’t know what had been taken. If I died I wouldn’t know what I’d be leaving. And whoever came upon that stuff after me would know about as much as I do about why I got rid of some things and left the rest. And they could throw it all away and it wouldn’t matter.