For those of you getting tired of wedding posts, this entry will be a welcome break because it’s only indirectly related to my and Cory’s upcoming wedding. (Sorry, I can’t totally remove myself. It basically consumes my life right now.)
To prepare for the wedding, which will be behind my parents’ barn, we had to do a little housekeeping when we were in town last weekend. The barn that my mom’s dad built about 65-70 years ago is NOT a wedding venue barn. It is an honest-to-goodness barn. When my grandparents stopped raising cattle more than 15 years ago, the barn became a storage facility for some of my grandpa’s tools and equipment. When we had a big clean at our house, we decided to store some of our stuff in the corn crib of the barn.
And there that stuff has stayed – mostly in black garbage bags – for at least a decade.
Our main objective last weekend was to clean out the corn crib and get rid of stuff. Going into that, I was confident I could cold-heartedly toss any childhood memorabilia aside with the ambitious notion that it was all for The Best. I waited until Cory texted me that he had knocked down the barn swallows’ nests and it was safe, then I made my foray into the corn crib.
I yanked the lid off a nearby tote, prepared to chuck useless items into a waiting garbage bag.
But then I saw my Corduroy bear. And then my Madeline doll. And then my stuffed dalmatian with the pink bow.
I held each one up and brandished it to my mom. “Aww! Look! You remember this little guy?”
She stood there and smiled, gloved hands holding open the garbage bag, dust floating around her in the rays of sun slicing through the slats of the wall. I knew she was more sentimental than I am and that she was not only trying to hold back tears, but also refrain from swaying my decision of whether or not to pitch these things.
So then I held it out to Cory. “Look at this! I used to take this thing everywhere!”
He smiled too. Going through old stuff and taking those token trips down memory lane are like drugs to him.
I uncovered old board games my sister and I used to play, Barbie hairbrushes, a notebook I’d kept as a diary for four days, pacifiers, Cracker Jack prizes (when they were still cool prizes), a plastic picnic set and more.
Bottom line, it was hard to go through this stuff. It was hard to hold something in my hand that I held in my 3-year-old hand, my 6-year-old hand, my 11-year-old hand and just let it fall into a trash bag. The whole time, I had to keep in mind a variety of factors: Is it ruined? Would I display it? What would I do with it? Do I have a place to put it? Can it be salvaged? Could I sell it? How important was it to my childhood? Is a defining moment attached to it?
The day before this sorting started, Cory and I talked generally about going through old things.
“I wonder why it’s hard to get rid of some stuff,” I said. “If nothing can be done with it, why keep it?”
“I think it’s because those are tangible things we associate with a memory or a time in our lives, and we think if we get rid of those things, we’ll forget, we’ll also get rid of the memory,” he said.
That’s exactly how it feels.
Throughout the few hours of remaining daylight we spent cleaning, I had to remind myself that I needed to only save the essentials, because there was a bigger reason to clean out the corn crib than just to purge. The long-overdue cleaning was a necessary step in improving the barn, and improving the barn is a necessary step in preparing for the wedding, and preparing for the wedding is a necessary step in having the wedding, and having the wedding is a necessary step in the joining of Cory’s life and mine, legally, physically and spiritually.
Okay, yes, we could have just gone to the courthouse – and don’t believe we haven’t entertained the idea – but I think you get my point here.
Even though I felt a pang of sadness at throwing away sweet mementos of my childhood, I know it had to be done eventually. And chances are, I won’t even think about most of those things ever again. Just because I won’t doesn’t mean the memories with them didn’t happen or contribute less to who I am today, it just means I had to make some hard decisions.
Because an upcoming joyous day depends on it.