I have been spending my Friday afternoons helping to clear out my Nana’s house. There’s very little of my grandparents’ possessions I bothered to lay claim to in the “who wants this” scrum — an antique writing desk, a table my father’s uncle made as a wedding gift for my parents, a pair of porcelain Dresden ballerinas, some power tools, a few photos and one of my grandfather’s paintings.
The bigger task has been dealing with the collection of stuff I’d accumulated during the first thirty-two years of my life and later consigned to storage in my Nana’s attic. As times and my tastes changed from my late teens through my early thirties, I’d periodically gather up the relics of the previous cycle and dump them in one of many storage crates and repurposed cardboard boxes. It was easier — and less painful — than simply tossing it out or selling it off, and sidestepped any worries that “I might need that someday.”
The bulk of it consists of books, several crates of trashy one-shot paperbacks, undergrad textbooks I held onto for some reason, favorites that had fallen out of favor. These are mixed in with various RPG rulebooks and ‘zines, old college notebooks (kept for the sketch and poem marginalia I added during moments of boredom), sketch pads from my artist days, campaign notes and character sheets dating back to 1986, turn of the millennium PC components, and ancient financial aid award letters and registration forms.
There’s room for all of it at the House at the Hillside, which is why it’s still in my Nana’s attic. Even if I did have the space, I still wouldn’t want most of it. The problem is sorting the few treasures from the mounds of trash. Any notions I’d ever have to deal with the jumbled mess were purely theoretical when haphazardly tossed it into crates to make space for more recent acquisitions.
The selection process is easy. The sorting is the hard part.
Thus far, I’ve managed to trim by collection of trash funnybooks (mostly late Nineties/early Aughts superhero stuff) down to four longboxes, with the remainder converted into forty bucks in credit at a local comic shop. I’ve consolidated my sci-fi, fantasy and horror paperbacks (and the better parts of my grandpa’s collection of the same) into a couple of crates, rounded out with some “keepers” from my required college era reading lists.
My Warhammer 40k stuff will be making the trip, though I’ll have to pare down my four boxes of battlefield scenery into a single “greatest hits” crate. The rest of the RPG stuff will be sorted and saved, as well. I promised Lil Bro my set of AD&D 1st edition hardbacks, but will probably hold back my copies of Fiend Folio, Oriental Adventures, and Monster Manual II for sentimental reasons. The stack of gaming ‘zines will get narrowed to a handful of significant issues, and most of the character sheets and other ancillary material reduced to a few representative samples.
The same goes for a lot of my old college paperwork. Keep enough to conjure a snapshot of those times, and dump the rest. (My old term papers will be the easiest to trash because they put the lie to any worries I had about my writing skill diminishing over time.)
The entire project should be done by the end of July. Hopefully, I’ll have enough stuff cleared away in another couple of weeks to gain access to the storage cubbyhole my grandfather carved into the eaves and confirm whether or not the trash bag full of my old punk shirts is still hidden in there. It’s likely a vain hope, but it one that sustains me through the sweaty, dusty work of consolidating a huge segment of my life into a half-dozen plastic crates.