I recently completed the process of moving … not too far away, still in D.C., still in the same apartment building in fact. Regardless, moving is a pain. At one point of my life, partially during the college years, I moved seven times in seven years. I’m sure there are worse stories.
Moving also provides chances … chances to purge. Combine being a sports fan with a mild case of pack-rat-itis and you’ll accrue a lot of stuff. Combine that with having a mom who was an art teacher, which gave me an eye to see just about everything as a potential project, and you’ll have even more crap that your girlfriend (or significant other) doesn’t admire.
Tickets to just about every sporting event I’ve been to in 30 years? I’ve got most of them around somewhere … pretty sure I’ll do something cool with them someday. Boxes of old basketball and baseball cards? Not only do I have plenty with me, but I also stockpiles spread in other states at the respective abodes of both parents.
So, I took my recent move as a chance to purge, but mostly from the inane — umbrella hats, extra sets of poker chips, t-shirts, t-shirts & more t-shirts, novelty Velcro shoes that I purchased from Wal-Mart when I was in college for one reason or another — not sports collectibles, just items wrought with ridiculousness. Some of these things have come in handy for several last-minute Halloween costumes, but most of my retained crap can be directly attributed to acquiring something just for a zinger effect. The things we do when we’re young.
But one of my sports collectibles, if you loosely want to call it that, that I’d retained since 1992(ish) just had to go. I’d kept this old, crappy, IKEA drawer/shelf thing for the past 18 or so years. It went from my parents’ house, to just my mom’s house, to my previous place (and probably with an additional stop or two somewhere in between).
The actual piece of furniture means nothing. There’s absolutely no reason why I should have owned it for such a long period of time. And not to say it didn’t provide functionality, just not the type of aesthetic that will delight the eye of a girlfriend. Alas, it was time for me to toss said IKEA piece in the gar-baage.
But why did I keep it for so long? Well, probably for the Michael Jordan, David Robinson and Chris Mullin Dream Team stickers that I stuck on it around age 12 … stickers that would probably be worth money today if they weren’t used in the manner for which they were designed. Who, in their right mind, would toss such a relic?
I thought about keeping it. Really did. Just put it in the new apartment and things would work themselves out. But I know, deeper down than the age of these stickers — stop and think for a second, kids who weren’t even born when the original Dream Team was winning gold can now join the army (okay, enough of the, “my memories are getting old” spiel) — that my new roommate (aka, the girlfriend) would not approve. So I took the piece to the basement of my apartment, where one man’s trash goes to be claimed by another soul as treasure, or to die via some dump somewhere I suppose.
Would these Dream Team memories find a new, good home? Or would they ultimately be crushed into dust? I still won’t know the answers to these questions, but my absurd detachment from the piece did find solace. The Latino gentlemen I often see cleaning around my apartment building saw me put the shelves in the basement hallway. I don’t want to exaggerate here by saying his eyes lit up after he asked, and I told him I was getting rid of the piece, but they were certainly filled with sparkling intrigue.
“Are you throwing out?,” he said in almost unrecognizable broken English.
“Yea,” I replied. He asked if it worked, seemingly preparing to resign himself to the fact that the drawers and other features of the furniture piece were beyond salvageable.
“Nope, it’s perfectly fine. I just don’t need it anymore,” I somewhat lied, not knowing the Spanish translation for ‘My girlfriend is making me do it.’
A reassured smile crept across his face. “Maybe I will take,” he said.
“Definitely,” I replied and gave him a smile back. It wasn’t going to some trash dump, it was going to someone who presumably needed it.
And who knows, maybe the gentleman will grow an affection for Dream Team I, as many in the world did at that time, become a basketball fan … and then become disgusted and disenchanted with Dream Team II and start hating basketball. But in reality, he probably just purged the stickers himself with solvent and a scrapper.
Here’s to letting things go and moving on, something I could stand to do more of, in general. Here’s to the thought of having a better, happier New Year. Here’s to Michael Jordan, David Robinson and Chris Mullin dunking, rebounding and defending in my room for so long.