I spent a majority of my visit to my parent's house cleaning out my room.
It's been years since my parents and I agreed that-- no matter the circumstance-- it is best if I only come to stay as a visitor and not as a resident of their house. Not that I don't love Miguel and Mama Crow to pieces; it's just a matter of keeping everyone a little more sane and a little less angry. It works well, even if I don't live within easy driving distance (as Mama Crow would prefer).
Cleaning out the old room is no easy task. Instead of rooting everything out to create an office or a guest room (as is the case in many of my friend's old rooms), Mama and Miguel kept everything about the same. Finally the shrine to my younger self got to me (and my allergies were going nuts with all of the residual dust) and I decided to do a massive purge.
It's hard to imagine that everything (which hasn't crept its way up to the attic crawlspace) still managed to fit in this 10 by 10 space. Indeed, it seemed as if every nook and cranny held some matter of importance dating back to my birth to my teenage years, with whatever other detritus left over from summers home from college tucked into the corners. Also, after I complained about the number of newspaper clippings I received in the mail, my parents started shoving a majority of this in one of the empty dresser drawers.
It took longer than I anticipated. Partially because I had a nearly 2 year old helper who would dump out whatever exciting treasures I had just sorted. Also, because I went through everything with a fine tooth comb. I read every saved letter and birthday card. I suffered through the half-assed journals of my youth. I carved out the copious notes from coursework long since passed.
I started to think about why I had put this off for so long, and why my parents didn't take some action to reclaim the space. I've decided that it has to do with a generational trickle down effect. My grandparents (the nicer, deader ones) were raised in the depression. At their home, not one piece of wrapping paper or small bit of string that may be put to use at some point was thrown away. I can see the effects of this in my parents (who still have all of their college papers and notes tucked in rotting trunks in the garage) and a little in myself.
I think I was ready on an emotional level to get rid of this stuff long ago. But I didn't have the know how. It wasn't long ago that my friend Jesse taught me the joys and pleasure of getting rid of shit. It takes time and dedication to collect these things and keep them somewhere. He taught me about the satisfaction of having and using what you need and replenishing it when necessary.
So, after many, many hours spent cleaning and many more sneezes to accompany the cleanup of the millennium, here is an inventory of what I left in my wake:
+Two city issued recycling bins full of mostly paper.
+Fifteen shopping bags of give away.
+One large box of my fondest childhood keepsakes.
+The best toys from my younger days, now willed to my nephew when he visits.
+A drawer full of usable office supplies, given to my parents.
+One box of stuff to be dragged up to Portland at a later date.
+2/3 of shelf of my mom's copies of classic fiction books.
+My grandmother's bowling shoes.
+My entire hedgehog collection.
Not bad, eh?