What do you do with sentimental clutter?

I remember when Garrett’s parents sold their house in the suburbs of Chicago and downsized to a condo. We were all living in Brooklyn at the time, and he had to go back to clean out his old bedroom. That meant throwing away a lot of stuff.

I’ve never had to do that because my mom is a packrat. She bought her parents house in 1974 (and her parents bought it in 1950), and even let them keep most of THEIR stuff there. So that house is filled with old photographs and sentimental curiosities. Nothing valuable, just things that have been sitting in drawers so long it is now impossible to throw them away. Every time I go over there, there’s an I-remember-that! moment, as well as an I-can’t-believe-you-still-have-this moment. Mom gets annoyed with me because I tend to just throw things away when she’s not looking (last week I found my letter from NYU telling me who my roommates would be that semester — it’s scrapbooker’s heaven over there’).

Lately, however, she’s been getting back at me by making me get rid of stuff that’s been sitting in her house since I moved out in 1996. A few weeks ago, she shoved a box at me, which just sat in my trunk until I needed to make room for other stuff this morning. It’s full of old pictures from school trips and about fifty mix tapes.

I must admit, it’s a lot harder to throw them away than I thought it would be. This would be much easier if they’d made me do this back in 2000, like Garrett’s parents. Maybe that condo in Florida that Mom is threatening to buy isn’t such a bad idea after all.