It started with a mild desire to haul boxes of banking records from the 1980s off to the shred-ery, a one-day free shredding service in town. And I don’t know when or how it will end, but I can imagine what’s ahead: sorting through all manner of boxes, plastic bins, shelves of files and whatnot, trying to figure out what lives with us, what needs to be put up for adoption, and what goes to the shred-ery or recycle bin.
Our basement is our history. Down there are cherished lettered from 1981, toddler dresses full of layers and lace, handmade baby blankets from grandparents long dead, cassette mix tapes heavy on chanting and Joni Mitchell, hardened containers of paint, essays critiquing the constitution or exploring dark matter, and many pieces of clothing no one in this house will every wear again. It doesn’t bother me that so much is underneath our regular life upstairs, only that it’s kind of a disorganized mess. The camping supplies extraordinaire (everything you need for weeks of living in the mountains without human contact) spill over boxes of housing loan papers, packets of seeds never planted, and boxes full of unhappy action figures. The zigzag of what’s there overwhelms me and makes me feel like some basement in my subsonscious is going to explode out like a reverse tornado.
Unfortunately for me, no one else in my house hold feels this way about the basement, but then again, no one but me knows where anything in the basement actually is. “Will you help me clean the basement sometime?” I cheerfully ask family members. “Why?” they answer.
Fortunately, sorting through the once-loved, never-to-be-loved again or save-for-later-loving is an intriguing task. It’s fascinating, too much so, and I have to resist the urge to read Natalie fifth-grade essay on the life of Australian tree frogs or a postcard crowded with tiny print from a friend I can’t remember having.
But some day, a gal just has a lot of sorting energy, and that day is today, so I will put on my sorting hat, gather a bunch of boxes and black plastic bags, and begin the parade of our stories and history into a new order.