Thirty-seven boxes. That’s how many packing boxes are still in the garage from the last move, five years ago. We downsized and those boxes just didn’t fit in the house. Without knowing what was in them, I stashed them in the garage.
And now, it’s time to go through them and have a garage sale. I thought it would be a tedious, even boring task. It is not. It is a weird time warp, a reminder of the difficulty of a move (those last three boxes that are stuffed with a box of crackers, two silver forks and your passport) as well as the Solomon-like decision I have to make on what to keep and what to throw out or put up for the garage sale.
The beads were easy. I no longer do silver work or beadwork, so the 20 pounds of beads and silver findings will go out in the garage sale. (Attention Phoenix beaders–we are talking every imaginable kind of bead from seed bead to antique. December 7. Mark your calendars).
Much harder were vases that were long-ago wedding gifts from relatives that I don’t remember. Candlesticks my mother thought important enough to take up space in the two crates they were allowed when they left Europe, but are worn bare to the copper beneath the silverplating.
What I do remember is cleaning out my mother’s house, and working in one room for eight hours, clearing out quilting fabric and yarn. At the end of eight hours we discovered a couch, which gradually became visible with more fabric removal. I don’t want First Born to ever have to do that. So I’m sifting.
Sorting your past is a feeling that gives you vertigo. I run across jury photos of work I did when I was a silversmith. I will never make jewelry again, but the creative restlessness visible in the pieces are still in my work.
The decision to shed my collection of rocks may be silly. Who wants a box of rocks–just because I picked them up in China, Australia, Paris and Singapore? My collection of soft drink bottles with foreign labels? All of them will belong to someone else. With the sure knowledge that if they are not sold on garage sale day, they aren’t coming into the house again.
So the decisions are tough–either make room for it by getting rid of something else, or get rid of it. Shedding your life. It’s not all bad. I don’t have to maintain it. I get to learn fun skills–I often wrapped rubber bands around one leg of a pair of jewelyy pliers to give my fingers traction. Who knew that rubber bands melt in Phoenix’s insane heat? And who knew I’d figure out how to get melted rubber band off a tool handle?
The first people thought snakes were magic because they shed their skin. There may be some good re-birth in shedding a past life.
–-Quinn McDonald is cleaning out her garage. The task is daunting.