(This post does not involve children. You are warned/saved.)
Our garage is full of junk, much like yours. (If not a garage, then a closet, or a storage bin, or your parents’ basement. Honestly, you have too much stuff.)
We have a garage. And it is jammed with… Memories.
Too many memories.
It’s only after you decide to rid yourself of your junk that you realize: What the hell kind of memories was I saving? 35 years of menus from IHOP and receipts from Sears?
You don’t remember any of these.
So, you are jamming the Olive Garden, Hertz Rent-a-Car, and Spencer’s Gifts receipts from 1991 right into the recycling bin. But, instead of just recycling those papers, you realize that you have to check every single one of them, because:
Everyone back in the ’80s and ’90s wanted your Social Security number for their paperwork.
And, you happily wrote it down. For the Vet. The Kinko’s guy. The Burger Chef cashier. The Video Store clerk. Driver License. Voter Registration. Daily Saving Time.
For me, in college: Homework assignment: “Write your Social Security Number Here.” “Your full name and student number:” “Pledge your Student Honor Code and SS#.”
Why were the powers fixated on this. Why are we even using the Social Security Number to identify people? Oh wait, a timely article:
30 years later, your shredder does five pages at a time. It takes 15 seconds. Each pass. It can’t keep up. Every single paper has your Social on it. The Grandkids will know you as Grandpa Shred.
But, here’s the thing about saving your memories:
When you’re young, you save everything because you know that your biographers will one day want to recreate your every single move and thought that you’ve ever had.
Then, along the way, your realize that you won’t have any biographers because you are just another cog in the wheel. So you jettison your illusions of grandeur. Then you think that you’ll write an acclaimed memoir, but, honestly, you know that no one wants to read it.
So you look at the stuff in the garage. Stuff you’ve been moving from place to place. You are moving your memories.
Finally you realize, 20 years later, the only time you experience those memories is when you are standing next to a recycling bin, throwing away your Target receipt from 1989.