It's Monday, June 27th...I've been home in Green Bay for three days now. I should say--I've been based out of GB for three days now, since I spent Saturday and Sunday roadtripping to Cashton, WI to go to a Ruetten family reunion. I haven't seen most of that side of the family since Grandma Ruetten passed away seven years ago. Seems like everyone my age has got babies running around...yet it was nice to catch up with the cousins. Since we last met, I've "grown up," no longer treated like the little kid. Although there was a conversation about "after you graduate, get a job, marry, have kids...what else is there to update people about? Still living, still working, raising a family." What people do: live, grow, love. I also got a chance to learn a little about Grandpa Ruetten's ancestors, the ones who came over from Germany in 1881. Since living in Virginia, where everyone is a hobbit when it comes to geneology, I've gotten interested in tracing my family roots back. It's startling to see people with familar names, faintly traced in a few quick sentences and a picture. Leaving we descendents to fill in the blanks.
Another quest when I came home was to clean out the closet in my old bedroom. It's become a hole for memorabilia from high school, college, early trips abroad. And there's not really anyone but me who can decide what to save and what to throw. I've been working at it today with a descendent's mentality: both of my grandmothers left closets full of pictures and souveniers that mean little or nothing to their children and grandchildren, and I don't want to do that. I'm being ruthless. Haven't gone quite so far as to throw out the baby album, but I know there will come a day when I pare it down to a half-dozen pictures. For now I've been editing my high school experiences, tossing three yearbooks and only saving my senior edition, and making sure I don't have TOO many copies of the London Tube map. After all, it will be completely different when I go back.
Still, there are a lot of things I'd like to hold on to. Silly things, like scarves, that will come in handy next fall, and potential housewarmers, like a silk embroidered shawl. Then there are the absolute treasures, like the tape of an interview I made with Grandma Lemery. And the pictures...oh the pictures. I am hoping that in a hundred years there will be more than one photo of me left, but I'm trying to get rid of the ones that include people whose names I can't remember.
I may be the only organizer to have four piles: donate, save, trash/recycle and burn. There is something so cleansing about burning old things. I don't want strangers in recycling plants fingering my photos, I don't want people who were once very near and dear to me to think that I don't value that time in our lives together...but too many photos and a desire to move forward sends them into the flames. Tomorrow we'll take a load to Goodwill and then start on the other half of the closet. In the meantime, I'm left to reflect on what is and isn't important to me.