I think I have a small but very real hoarding problem. Like, I’m not going to appear on an episode of Hoarders anytime soon, but I keep things way past their expiration dates. I am in the process of moving back in with my mother and this means packing and unpacking and packing and unpacking lots of things and getting rid of most of it. My mom has a lot of stuff, so it was giving away dishes, selling furniture on Craigslist and keeping the important things like my Keruig in storage (aka at Stephen’s apartment).
I packed my room without issue. I had only lived in that house for, like, two years, so I didn’t have that much time for things to accumulate beyond control. Moving back into my mom’s house was a different story. I was bound and determined to get most of my clothes unpacked in the first afternoon that I had moved home. My mom had recently redone my room and I was ready to live in a room that looked fit for a 20-something. Gone were the lime green walls and Diet Coke stained carpet. Thank God. I couldn’t wait to start feeling like a grown up. Plus, my mom has cable. It’s funny how things change. When I was in high school, I loathed my closet. It was way too small to fit all of my things, I thought. But now? Uhm it’s like 5 times the size of any closet I have had in my college days. There’s actually room to see all of my clothes. It is a personal high to have such a functioning closet, and it’s not even a walk-in. I was so ready. But to my horror, when I opened my closet the floor was covered with three large boxes of stuff. “Oh, you should look through that, I didn’t know if it was worth saving,” said my mother. Fine. I will. It’s whatever.
What happened next was both terrifying and amusing. I found an old Mickey Mouse shoebox with handwriting that said “Boyfriend Box.” I completely forgot that it existed. Inside were love letters and pictures with my high school boyfriend E, totally harmless – we were fourteen. It was amusing. Then I started finding momentos of more recent relationships. A teddy bear, some jewelry, pictures. It was surreal. Each new item brought me back to the time and place when I got it. I can’t believe I kept it at all. None of my break ups have been especially amicable, and I’m surprised I didn’t just chuck the crap as soon as I could. Maybe part of me was holding onto the memories for prosperity’s sake, or maybe I thought I should save them “just in case.”
What a crock of shit. I mean honestly, four years ago maybe that was a smart idea. I was newly single and heartbroken. But damn, can four years really give some perspective. I promptly opened a trash bag and threw the entire box away. It wasn’t an act of defiance or a “screw you” to my exes. It was just, I didn’t need it anymore. If my holding onto it was a metaphor for a future, my throwing it away is a reminder that it is my past. I have a great future ahead, and honestly it was just taking up space. I am growing up.
Now the floors of my closet are lined with shoes, as they should be. I have a picture of Stephen by my vanity and a picture of my grandma next to my bed. I don’t need a boyfriend box full of things that Stephen gives me. I don’t think I’ll need momentos of our relationship, I’m not 18 anymore. If it doesn’t work out, I’d be heartbroken but I won’t savor every memory with material possessions. If we go the distance (which I think we might but don’t tell anybody), then why do I need a box of all the things he’s given me. Each new day with Stephen is a step into the future, and I don’t see the point in looking back.
Molly is a senior journalism/English major at a school you haven’t heard of in a state you haven’t heard of. She’s obsessed with Chandler Bing, English bulldogs, and cheese. Follow her on twitter @mollymahannah, or check out her website accordingtomolly.com.