On Throwing Out My Old Memorabilia

Tonight, as part of our attic cleanup, I processed a box that I’ve probably not seen since I put it up there in, oh, 1995.

It contained stacks of memorabilia from when I was active in local community theatre in the early ‘90s. For each play, I had a large manila envelope that contained the script, signed programs, opening night and closing night cards and well wishes, any reviews, and so on. (Rather like Twyla Tharp’s boxes.)

On the outside of the envelope, I’d recorded director’s notes, schedule changes, reminders, and so on. I must have carried the envelope to every rehearsal, based on the different types of ink. I did not remember doing that so I was rather pleased, in a nerdy way, to see I was thinking of systems and managing/packaging information.

If I had come across a box like that in my 20s, even in my 30s, I’d have opened every envelope, read each card, thumbed through the script to read my highlighted lines, and soaked myself in the nostalgia of that time.

But today, at 57, I found it easy to smile at the memory of these artifacts, to put them back in the box, and to put the box by the door where it will find its way to the recycle bin.

I expect I will feel the same when I finally get to the box with my high school and college yearbooks. Liz will want to page through them to see what I looked like then. But I have no interest in them at all; in fact, I thought I’d already gotten rid of them years ago.

I don’t remember what Marie Kando says about processing memorabilia, but it’s easy to apply her question to such items: do they bring me joy? Right now? I know I delighted in receiving opening-night cards and gifts at the time; it was part of the fun of being in a production.

But they hold little to no emotional charge for me now. I see them as, again, artifacts. Or better: souvenirs collected by someone else living in a different time and place.

Michael E Brown @brownstudy