My four old keeps asking me, “When are we going to swap our house?” Now, last time I checked, we are not members of a fancy house swap arrangement whereby some unsuspecting family trades their spacious Tuscan villa for our warm and cosy home. It took me awhile to work out what he was really getting at.
He wants a house with new/different stuff in it. And by stuff, he means toys.
Whilst I admire his big picture vision and quirky veiled question, it’s not something that aligns well with me. I have cupboards. Full ones. Doors that get slightly stuck because the contents are spilling out (and that’s not all toys, it’s just the overflow of life).
I daydream about being a minimalist. But then I get shocked back into reality.
I’m a sentimentalist. I love my special things. Artefacts from long gone grandparents, the dress I wore to my 21st birthday, my deflated teddy bear from the 1980s, a mammoth box full of Baby Sitter Club Books, assignments from university subjects long ago…and the in-flight menu from our honeymoon. In 2006. (Ok, I was horrified at that last one. Straight in the bin. I don’t scrapbook. And I don’t recall if I had the Penang Curry or Pad Thai). But true mementos and trinkets, worthy and special, are tactile and real and can connect us to memories, loved ones and experiences.
It doesn’t seem to be flavour of the month. No- one is writing bestselling non-fiction about the art of collecting are they? I’m aware that people may suggest I will feel lighter when I ‘detach’ from stuff. I know from experience that this method is successful. I feel lighter every time I ‘detach’ from a preschool inspired milk carton sculpture. The detachment process is necessarily delicate. One must give due admiration to the artist’s work and then seek full consent to ‘detach.’ Often artists are inclined to change their minds, in which case, if the recycling truck has already gone, you’re in trouble.
So for now, much to Master Four's chagrin, we are not ‘swapping house.’ It’s cosy and comfortable here, surrounded by the things that remind us of where we have come from, who has loved and loves us, and how we want to feel every day (connected, loved, inspired and just a little flustered when we open the cupboards).
©Naomi Morrow, 2015.