It took me many hours and six magic erasers, but I finally wiped clean nearly every surface in our house. Our walls are white, and over the course of three years, we filled them with scuff marks, fingerprints, pencil lines, grease and the like. As I cleaned, I found evidence of our family life all over the walls of our home–a hand-printed and marked up history of us. The fingerprints made their way up the walls as the kids grew, and so did the height marks made in pencil in the corner of the kitchen. I found chipped up sections where the paint gave way to the tape the kids used to hang blankets and sheets to create yet another secret hideaway. I found splatters of watercolors from art projects and melted wax crayon and various mystery marks from floor to ceiling.
After cleaning the walls, we pulled together the remaining electronic items and outgrown toys and drove them to the yearly school tag sale. Usually, I’m the girl buying, adding a few new books,toys, or household goods to our collection. This year, we spread our things across the lunch room tables, and sold them. Little girls ran away from our table clutching my daughter’s too-small princess dresses. A seven-year old friend purchased my son’s old roller blades and spent the afternoon skating by our table with a grin. A woman purchased our waffle maker with the Swiss plug, and she almost had to pry it out of my hands to complete the sale. I told her how many times I came home from a Saturday run to the scent of waffles wafting from the kitchen, and my husband standing over the maker with a plate for me in hand. She responded with a smile and an “I know, we love homemade waffles too.” as she made off with a piece of my life’s history in her hands.
I don’t typically feel sentimental about “stuff”, but this weekend, as our things disappeared into crumpled up shopping bags right in front of my eyes, I thought of this online space. I thought of the photos and the stories, and I thought of you and how you understand the need to keep a place where the memories don’t gather dust or take up valuable space. Here, I wrap up my history–my family’s history–in words that can’t be magic erased. I can’t sell them for the best price or watch you skate by wearing what remains. Instead, you allow me the privilege of sharing them with you, week after week, month after month, year after year.
I know we will buy more stuff, and I know we will scuff up the floors of our next home. My kids will continue to grow and we’ll make new memories and the handprints will continue to climb up the walls. Our history will continue to unfold, one waffle, pencil mark, and story at a time.
What story are you telling right now? How do you keep the memories and still let go of all the stuff?