Boomer Basement Cleanup Angst
My husband and I are engaged in the Sisyphean chore of clearing 30 years of accumulated miscellany from our basement, from drawings that our preschoolers created (they are now 34 and 36 years old), to photographs, books, stuffed animals, 20 years of paintings that I did when I was a painter in my youth, even my report cards from elementary school. Needless to say, this project is not going quickly. We’ve made countless trips up to the attic to carry boxes and boxes and bags of books that will eventually have to be brought back down to fill the built-in bookshelves that will cover at least one or two walls in our new apartment down where the basement is now. My feelings about these miscellaneous items vary from day to day. When I first began the cleanup I wanted to simply recycle everything. We simply do not have room to save this stuff. Some days, though, just taking a picture of something for the record isn’t enough and I want to keep the item. Where will I put it?
For the first time I am feeling empathy with my mother who often talked about wanting to clear her stuff so we wouldn’t have to do it after she died. She never did get around to it and we spent countless days sifting through mountains of papers and knick-knacks. We couldn’t do a wholesale recycling of papers because every now and then we found a gem. For example, in a huge pile of old magazines and junk mail we found my cousin’s birth announcement from over 50 years ago. Some might say that it wouldn’t have been a great loss to recycle this, but my cousin found the announcement to be precious. She never had seen it.
So here we are, just like my mother, trying to sift through years of items that have sentimental value but are a real encumbrance. We are reminded that much has happened over the years and what may be valuable to us will soon be a bunch of junk for someone else to sort through. I hope we are able to take care of this while we’re still on this earth. I have visions of a bonfire at the beach.