Did you know they really exist, pack rats? Despite what certain parties might tell you, I am not quite as messy as a real pack rat--I do not preserve my surroundings with urine, for one--but I do live in a universe of private souvenirs whose meaning is clear only to me. And actually, not even, as I keep some things so long I forget why I ever had them.
This tendency is exacerbated by the fact that
a) I moved seven times in two and a half years
b) in a hasty move, which they always are, I'll throw all the remaining stuff into a box at the last minute, allegedly to be later unpacked, which it never is
c) whenever a pile of papers accumulates in my room or coffee table or kitchen chair, my quick-clean solution is to toss them into a box in the capacious garage/studio.
Now I have to deal with it.
Nothing in the world stirs up the emotional sediment more than moving. Any song I play, regardless of genre, can make me teary. That kind of goes for everything I do, actually. And it doesn't matter that I'm not leaving my house for good, that my things will remain stored here, that I'm leaving for a place I'm thrilled to be headed to, and that I'll be back in less than a year.
There is something about Going Through Stuff.
Old homes, old story drafts, old tickets, old programs, old lists, old lovers, old photos--photos I took, photos others took, photos sent to me across the country, the letters, oh the letters. Old tapes, VHS, cassettes, floppy disks, hard disks, ZIP disks, obsolete technology, all-access passes, address books never filled before becoming obsolete, an old Mac Powerbook from 1993, old journals, old trinkets, old boxes, old papers, old receipts, old bills, old statements, old promises, old articles, old scraps of writing, old love. Old life.
The old life is still in me of course; it can't be returned to, but neither can it be obliterated. All these scraps and files and shoddy archives overcompensate on both counts. The archiving impulse is a weak little fist shaken against mortality and forgetting. Universe: I was here, and I remember!
And I have the magnetic refrigerator calendar from Le Gamin in the East Village from 2003 to prove it.