all of the selves we Have ever been
Today, I continued with my plan
to go from room to room tidying up some of the things I’ve been meaning to do for a long time.
I started with the coat closet. A paltry collection of two light jackets and one winter coat dangles on hangers from the long rod. They are barely perceptible in the large dark closet which also contains a tool box, large level, a drill, an upright vacuum cleaner, five empty cardboard boxes, my stash of paper supplies, and a big bag of bags.
I shift the coats, tools, paper products, and vacuum cleaner to the right and ponder my reasons for saving so many cardboard boxes. I kept each of them “just in case”—just in case I needed to return the items that came in them, or just in case I needed to mail a gift to someone, or just in case another box full of stuff becomes worn and needs replaced….It is the same story for the bag full of bags. In my mind’s eye, there is so much potential, I can’t let go—just in case.
How many things in my life have I accumulated “just in case?” It is good to be prepared, but generally, when I need something, I forget that I was accumulating items for just such a situation. Then I either buy something or go on a scavenger hunt to find something useful. Sometimes it is a nice surprise to find that I had a solution to my problem tucked away in some nook or cranny. More often, I am irritated by having to move the stuff around to get to what I need like the vacuum cleaner.
Today, I go bold. I flatten the boxes and move them to the recycling pile, but I weaken when I come to the bags. I save the sturdiest of the bunch. Who knows? In the current situation, I could end up homeless. I’ll hold onto to a few…just in case…
Feeling a sense of accomplishment, I move into my office. My eyes land on an old Rolodex that has sticky notes protruding from the M-P section. There is a stack of business cards hanging off to one side. I look at the mess and ask myself, “Do I really know this many people?”
I generally rely upon the contact list in my phone or on my computer, but I still keep some info on the small paper cards of the Rolodex as a back-up system. You know, just in case…
I start with A-D and card-by-card, work my way through the entire Rolodex. I’ve had this system for more years than I can remember. Studying each card becomes a game of trivial pursuit. Who is this person? How do I know them? I search for clues. Do I recognize the zip code from one of the many cities in which I’ve lived? How about the area code? I can place most of the names, but there are some that draw nothing but blanks. I discard a few of the unrecognized names, and I hang onto a few...just in case.
I do enjoy looking through the cards that contain names of friends, family members and colleagues. I look at the addressees that have been crossed off and the new ones added. I can trace a friend from her childhood home, to college, to her first marriage, her first big job, her move to a new city, a remarriage, and on into retirement. I see my children’s names in the file. There are various college addresses and first apartments. In this tiny file cabinet is my medical history in brief with the names and contact information for past physicians, dentists, and physical therapists. I see the names and former addresses of old co-workers. One moved to Virginia, another to Seattle. I enjoy reminiscing about our work days together, and I wonder how they are. Maybe I will use this shelter-in-place time to look them up and see what they are doing now.
I make quick work of the thick stack of business cards. I have no idea who most of the people are. I must have picked up the bulk of the cards at various conferences and business meetings over the years. I can’t think of any case in which I would be giving them a call. I run the cards through the shredder.
I add a few more cards to the file, information from scraps of paper littering my desk top. When I finish tidying up, the Rolodex looks so neat and professional. I feel a sense of accomplishment, and I vow to keep the Rolodex up-to-date and in order. Mm, hmm.
Tomorrow I will tackle that stack of bulging file folders that has followed me from place to place. I will try to decipher what it is that I was preparing for…the just in case that never happened.