What are we thinking when we put items in closets?  I’m not talking about clothing, but other things like papers, books, and boxes filled with trinkets.  Is it a place to simply hide mementos that we don’t know what to do with?   Perhaps with good intentions, we place them on shelves and over the years, we forget what’s inside.  When it’s time to clean out the closet, it’s like opening a bit of a time capsule.

I’ve been cleaning out the extra bedroom closet preparing to sale the house.  Keep in mind that I have no clothes whatsoever in there.  We lined the closet with four bookshelves and a filing cabinet.  That closet is an never-ending job.  Yes, I’ve hauled six large black trash bags out of there.  Many textbooks have been donated to Hope’s Closet and yet, I keep getting lost looking at the remaining things inside that small room.

Tonight, I was kidnapped by National Geographic maps and pictures.  The maps are mine; given to me by John’s dad, Pierce.

My first treasure was the two homemade boxes with the maps folded neatly inside.  I couldn’t help but smile because the boxes were made by my Dad-in-law who could organize anything with recycled boxes.

These small boxes were from Stemco; tops cut off and clear tape binding them together.  I pulled them out, sat in the hall, and like buried treasure, I pulled the maps out one by one.  Carefully unfolding them, reading the information on one side, and looking at the maps on the other side.

Obviously, they came with National Geographic Magazines over the years.  Dad had also given those to me, but about four years ago, I donated all but a few of them to one of the history teachers at the high school.  I’m pretty sure that I’ll sell the maps after selecting a few that I’d like to keep.

The maps ranged from 1970 to 1993.  I’d estimate there were about thirty of them.  Nat. Geo. maps are really beautiful!  I sat there imagining all the changes that have taken place in the world during the forty plus years since the maps were printed; the history, wars, social opinions that have reshaped us.

I’m peeling away ‘stuff’ that has been collected during my married years.  Weeding out ‘things’ that I no longer need.  Preparing to down size to a smaller place.

I’ve read papers that have been kept and thrown many of them out.  Some I’ve tucked away to keep a little longer.  I’ve found cards that have made me smile and cry.  I’ve separated books into piles to get rid of and to keep.  I’ve been astounded by the number of teacher books that I’ve bought over the years.  Did I really think that I’d need so many?

Still the closet isn’t finished.  It’s stacked in piles on the floor and on the bed.  I’ve got dozens of CD cases to go through to check if they are empty or filled.  There are photo albums and yearbooks that are over flowing on the shelf.  I have to decide what to do with those.

I’m beginning to think that the closet may be the hardest room to get through. After this one, I have another two to go.  As I’m considering those, the attic comes to mind.  I’ll have to think about that job at a later date or I’ll be overwhelmed!

Like these old maps, I’m feeling a bit creased, out of date, and on hold.  With all the modern technology like GPS, we hardly ever use paper maps.  When on my road trips, I stop at state lines to pick up a free one.  I also carry an Atlas book.  I love to pull out a map and plan a route running my fingers over the roads or highlighting them.  I like to see all the towns that I could stop and explore.  However, I still use a computer to search for the best things to visit along the way.  It’s the perfect combination of old and new together.

Which reminds me that just because something is old, doesn’t mean it isn’t useful.  These maps do make beautiful decorations.  It’s the sentimental attachments that make cleaning and getting rid of things…difficult.  

I am more attracted to old things than to newer items and I find myself holding on to them.  I can’t see getting rid of things that have been passed down to me by family.  Getting rid of things that belonged to John is also difficult.  Once those are gone, they can’t be replaced, so I’m trying to be careful with what I decide.  Yes, getting through this closet is time-consuming and emotional.

Like a map showing directions, I’ll plan my route; one step at a time.

One room at a time.

One memory at a time.