Thursday, May 5, 2011


Jason and I spent part of Saturday afternoon going through an inordinate amount of junk in the basement in preparation for our upcoming garage sale.  Because Jason has pack-rat tendencies and I have the procrastinator's philosophy of "Don't do it at all until you can do it right," and because both sets of our own parents dumped boxes of our childhood things on us soon after we settled into this home, there was a lot to go through.

A small sampling of interesting things I found:

  • My batons (yes, there were two) from my days of middle-school band-nerd baton-twirliness, which I had to immediately demo for the girls, finger-twirling and fancy throwing and all.
  • The yearbook from my senior year in high school, containing much photo evidence that I was still rocking much-curled and much-Aqua-Netted bangs even in 1995.  (Too late, Stephanie.  Far too late.)
  • An old journal I kept from 1992, in which I apparently decided that it would be cool to begin each entry with "Dear Ashleigh," instead of just "Dear Diary." (I hope it is clear here that I did not actually KNOW anyone named Ashely, or "Ashleigh.")
  • One of my dog's teeth.
  • A jewelry box full of giant, geometric, gold earrings.
  • The saddest, ugliest, most stretched-out collection of maternity underwear and nursing bras ever.
  • A box containing all my folders and notes from college, including the twenty-page Worldview Paper called "Finding Satisfaction in Everydayness" I wrote at the end of my Senior Seminar, which I read through and which I still mostly agree with.
  • A box containing some of my folders and notes from high school, most notably papers I wrote in AP Biology and Chemistry with titles like "Characteristics of Epinephrine and Norepinephrine," dissection notes from my fetal pig, a study guide I made myself before a Pre-Calculus exam that had equations on it approximately like "(n+1) (n-1)! = 2n(n)," and other indecipherable bullshit that I literally don't even remember my own brain knowing.
  • My cassette tape collection, which involved a lot of Debbie Gibson, Salt N Pepa, En Vogue, Whitney Houston, Garth Brooks, Wham!, Michael W. Smith, and mix-tapes that I made straight off the radio with a little bit of Casey Kasem's voice at the beginning of each song.
  • The notecards with the written text of the speech I gave at my high school graduation.
Jason and I took our time paging through stuff, laughing, remembering, and then we threw almost all of it away.  It felt good to recycle boxes and boxes of things that we don't truly need or use, and the basement looks bigger and brighter without all that junk.  I'm not sad to see it go, because I have the important memories tucked away.  But I am a little sad to think about all the things I used to know and be and do that are completely lost.  I used to know the periodic table!  I used to speak in front of stadiums full of people!  I used to write properly-annotated twenty-page papers!  I used to play the piano and clarinet in Solo & Ensemble competitions and march, twirling my baton, in the band as it moved down Main Street.  I used to wear sorority letters, then nursing bras.  I used to teach kids to read and coach girls' track!  And none of those skills or roles are a part of my life any more.

It's an awkward time in my life, right now.  The girls are growing more independent each day.  "One, two, skip a few, ninety-nine, a hundred!" Annie sings from the bathtub, and I remember singing that same song and feeling oh-so-clever about it years ago.  I see how this is all going to go by faster and faster, how already their need for me is less urgent or frequent than it was even a year ago.  Next year, Jemma will be at school four mornings a week, then in kindergarten the year after that, and then both girls will be gone from 8:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. every day.  There is time, now, where there didn't used to be time, and I am not sure how to fill it.

So I stand in the basement, lazily twirling the old silver baton with the white rubber star-shaped ends, surrounded by the artifacts from the person I used to be ten or fifteen years ago, and I wonder who I am going to be next.  One, two, skip a few, ninety-nine, a hundred.


  1. Love this post.

    I found a lot of this same stuff all while cleaning out for our move. I, however, have yet to part with my cassette tapes (I know, I NEED to) and my old papers. I loved (and loathed) reading through my old journals and notes passed between friends in high school. It is an interesting exercise in so many ways.

  2. Oh, I didn't part with the cassette tapes. (Have you MET my husband, the music fiend?) We listened to them on an old "boom box" in the basement while we were cleaning . . .

  3. Really poignant post, Steph, especially the end.

    (I had a collection of more than 30 mixtapes at one point, each helpfully labeled "Favorite Songs #1," "Favorite Songs #17," etc. Casey Kasem was on many of them. And I still have a box of my college papers.)