I have not been writing much lately. Instead I have been quietly storing away to memory hoping that I will remember it and write it later. I have not even written notes to jog the memory, so I hope that I don’t forget. My partner told me I “had far more important things to do” as he does from time to time when he wants me to stop what I’m doing and do something different. We had storage which needed to be emptied out on a deadline and with it memories of the past, so many moments lost in that room for years and years. Many people have wondered why I keep stuff, I am sentimental and it started out as a habit. Those who know me have often asked. I used to collect the things that people did not want, or maybe I just found them interesting. I have furniture and things handed down to me by other family members. I’d also kept all the books which I had as a child, some I had made as projects at school. I did not throw them away, wanting to share their wonders with children of mine some day, or ones I’d been lucky to look after in the early years, waiting for my time to come as a mother. I kept the books and as time went by I stored them away.
When I had to move out of my large flat and had no where to go, many of my belongings went into a storage facility and when I had filled that up, we talked a neighbour into lending us their storeroom, in the basement where I used to live.
And there it has stayed… For several years now, it’s amazing how time flies isn’t it?
For the past three years getting into the building has been impossible. Prior to which we used to go in there get things out and store other stuff, but basically things were left there. Many of them have been quietly rotting away, ravaged by time and flood water. I hoped that some at least could be salvaged before it was too late.
The anticipation of finding things again after all this time, was mounting in my mind. My partner was dreading the whole process but did it with me. All my toot, as he referred to had to be moved.
So should we have cleared it all out and disposed of it all years ago? I have to say that there have been times over the past fortnight when we both felt that we should have done, it was a horrible job to do, it was smelly and damp which got right on your chest and everywhere else. We pulled muscles in the process but it is done and now we are sorting through, having moved what remained.
But there was some good news, there were things that I thought were long gone. I had assumed that they had been taken when the storage facility moved my belongings leaving them out in a corridor for passers by to walk off with. From the numerous burglaries in the basement, or lost when I could not remember which place they had been put in. I thought I may have got confused and donated the wrong bags to charity shops. I had doubted that I had many of these items still, whilst others I would fondly look forward to finding again.
Unfortunately, I lost most of my childrens’ books, all of my photograph albums from when I was growing up. During the clearance I picked up a box of books which were stored at floor level, hoping to keep them. They had obviously been placed there hurriedly. It looked fine from the top but as I moved it, the bottom fell out of it and water, so much water. I took it towards the bin and as I put the box in there, I realised that it held the photos and the children’s books. The photo’s destroyed and the colours running from the pages in multi coloured rivers. These were my first photos from when as a teenager I had saved my pocket money to buy my first camera and develop the film. I also found my art folder from my school days, the work was damp and mouldy and something I thought was there for years, is not. These were the low points but in the midst of it all, I found other things.
Among them was a bag which had been preserved containing the blue dress I bought when my Nan died and was wearing the first day that I met my partner. I found the favourite dress which I had when I was 18 and wore on many a night out and other new/old dresses which I had not yet worn. I found childhood collections, Love letters, letters and cards from friends. So many things, prized sentimental possessions from many years ago and after all these years I found my marbles!
My marble collection was won when I moved to this Southern town, new to the last year at Junior school. I was worried about settling in and making friends having been bullied at my previous school, there was a craze in the new school and I would learn how to play, then win a collection of marbles. I spent my meagre pocket money on marbles from the local toy shop and played every break time. I won most of the marbles in this container that year. I thought that the pasta jar (another of the things which had been stored away) was the perfect place in which to store them, on the kitchen windowsill where the light can bounce through them and I can enjoy them again.
Although I am a self-confessed hoarder and it will take me a while to get through it all. I will be working on my clutter and I have realised it is quite exhilarating to throw things out which are broken, or damaged and finding new homes for things which are no longer needed. As I enjoy finding other items from our past, no doubt there will be other things which put a smile on my face.
As I spoke to my oldest friend and also my mother after we had finished. I wondered out loud whether I would finally stop dreaming of the flat I’d had years earlier. Dreaming that I still lived there and that other people had taken over the place and my life along with it, holding parties that I did not want, with people I did not invite. That happened a lot. Mum told me that chapter is now over, now that things have gone from there I can finally stop living in the basement and be free at last. It seemed to mark the turning point, as I have been going through things with fervour throwing out decayed pieces of the past as I look towards the future. Maybe that is my metaphor and meanwhile, the strange dreams seem to have stopped.