After rearranging the furniture during a recent fit of insomnia, my bedroom was a labyrinth that poked at my latent OCD that I had buried deep inside me along with my secret unexplained urge to want to pinch the ass of a nice car. A5s be fine. Anyway, like most humans, I tend to get too caught up in the everyday routine. By the time I get a moment of peace, I will rarely want to waste it organizing the chaos that I have come to call my sanctuary (Kudos if you read that in Quasimodo’s voice). Because tomorrow’s always a day away, I rather just shove it all aside so there’s enough room for me and my laptop to fall asleep. What can I say, we’re very close.
Eventually, the time comes when enough is enough. As I was digging through the rubble of the accumulated possessions, I realized that this process has a Time Capsule Effect. This only occurs when you really dig though, like when you’re moving to a new house or trying to find your Fifa World Cup Brazil scarf from ’98.
A time capsule, for those who are not familiar, is an activity usually reserved for high school reunions and other moments where one may want to literally dig up the past. Participants can place mementos, tapes, videos, etc in the time capsule which will then be buried or locked away only to be opened at a later date where everyone can share in the reminiscing.
Oddly, no matter how many times you rummage through your belongings, there will always be remnants of a close friend or flame that are no longer a part of your life. There’s no shame in it, they were once important to you and for whatever reason – be it a fight, flight or just life – now they’re just somebody that you used to know. Maybe it’s a nice reminder, maybe it’s bittersweet, or maybe it sucks. Whatever it is, there they are again. These artifacts usually come in the form of old birthday cards/notes, dried flowers, photographs, or a keychain they got you when they went to Prague once. Disposal of such things is a personal choice. Getting rid of the material presence may help the emotional presence if needed. But not much.
Speaking of keychains, that’s another thing: souvenirs. Shot glasses, snow globes, postcards, figurines, lighters, magnets, and other trinkets that you collected as you and people you know traveled the globe. A lot of these destinations will be places you’ve never been to and may never go to. Some will be places you mark as your next stop. Souvenirs have become the new I-thought-of-you-when-I-was-here instead of the Here’s-proof-I-was-there.
Another collection- syllabi of completed classes, old exams of dropped ones. Original copies of textbooks you swore you’d need as a reference at some point in your career only to come to find that you wouldn’t use them because:
1) they’re not up to date
2) they’re still incomprehensible even after you graduated
3) the effort is futile, you’ll just google it
4) all of the above.
You rationalize that these will still be good references to have, buying them another couple of years on your shelf where they will collect dust and no resale value whatsoever. This is called guilt. It’s okay, we all paid $85 for a book we were too afraid to use a highlighter on. Just recycle it and stop hoarding.
As you continue your exploration, even Howard Carter wouldn’t be able to fathom why you still have notes from an elective you never liked. If you have already graduated, you will be looking at these and wondering how you ever survived a whole semester/quarter of that professor and her stories about waiting for food stamps during the Cold War or the other guy who always smelled like a cocktail of garlic and Nescafe. The best part of these notes though, will be the doodles and random scribbles that were added by classmates that you forgot you knew. Maybe you will look for them on LinkedIn just to see if they’re doing anything remotely rewarding now.
Old boxes for electronics you have already replaced, manuals you will never read and software you will never install. There’s probably a nylon bag of instructions in 4 languages for a printer that doesn’t work or is out of ink. It’s either sitting under your desk or in an electronics place in Dahieh as of 14 months ago.
If you’re lucky, you’ll find a present that you have yet to have the chance to gift. It may be one of those just-in-case gifts you’re mom stocks up on or a gift you got someone while they were abroad. Sometimes, the latter may not get the chance to see the intended recipient because too much time will pass. You inherit a goody bag. That would explain a set of teaspoons, a candy-filled yoyo, a wooden model motorcycle, a phallic glass Eiffel of cognac, and a bar of honey soap shaped like a bee with a minijar of honey swiped from the table at that swanky cafe that had overpriced chocolat chaud.
Novels you haven’t had the chance to read, free samples of perfumes/colognes/creams, receipts from late nights at the Hamra pubs, one teddy bear, and a NY Yankees cap. All the little things that you cling to because “I might need this later”/”I can’t throw THAT away!” will be packed away only to be found on your next journey where you will say the same phrase and save it from the grasps of a sukleen truck or charity bin.
Looking back is an interesting odyssey especially when you know what happened after those periods in your life. Sometimes, but not always, it is good to see what and who got you to the now.