It’s a Uniden Digital Answering System, a base station that supports three wireless phones in an age when almost no one has home phones anymore. I won’t after the move. Yet as I packed it in the box and drove it to our new home together, it was one of the first things out and plugged in. Because the answering machine contains the last message my mother left me. It has her last words in her voice.
So the machine made the cut.
When you fall in love and start to remake your life with someone, you have to decide just what makes the cut. This is the part you don’t think about in advance as you pass through that misty-eyed phase of “I love you” to “I will commit to you heart and soul.”
The thing is, for someone who strives to understand and live a somewhat Zen aesthetic, I have collected a lot of stuff. As Yoda would say, “Empty, my house was not.” Even more amazingly, I managed to do this in a mere seven years. I arrived in Florida with only what would fit inside a Chevy HHR, and that included myself, a cat and his litter box. In some ways, I became a pack-rat in my solitude, clinging to items that reminded me of the adventures I went on in my new life.
But that part of my life is over. Before, the home was all about me. Now, it is about us. Pam and I are striving to find that balance. That means finding items in my house which hold meaning but invite rather than exclude. Art, for example. My collection of Alan Bodner prints and the Kachina dolls I inherited from my mother both add to the home, as do the 78-rpm records I have, just the right note of quirkiness to show my style.
Like any professional team, however, cut down day approaches. Everything will not be part of the new home. Even though the process seems painful, and I whine about it (and Pam calls me on it, every time), there’s one simple truth shining through like a beacon.
It’s just stuff.
Oh, there are memories involved, to be sure. And as my own memory shifts seemingly to Swiss cheese, it seems I might be well served to keep some of this stuff. But not all of it. It needed to be culled. And after all, Pam fell in love with me, not my memories.
eBay is going to be very busy next year, I think.