Just Write {74}

February 25, 2013

We were talking numbers with a realtor. The discussion back and forth between Ryan and this 26 years veteran of real estate left me dazed, staring off toward our piano, wondering if we’ll take it along when we move.

They worked out the numbers. The only thing my brain would do in regard to numbers was try to plan how many plastic storage bins I want to buy this week because they’re on sale. I was imagining putting all the things in them that we don’t use every day, to pare down and clean off and give the house the appearance of tidy and minimal and open and big.

After our realtor left with promises of putting the house on the market on March 1, I took the bins we already have and headed downstairs to go through our storage space. I organized the kids’ clothing and re-organized the boxes and bins already waiting to be moved. I put all the old photos in one big bin instead of in several bags and small boxes. I stacked all of the Christmas things together and moved things around just so…

I opened bins to see what they held and resurfaced all of the keepsake totes and boxes. I took it all out to put it back in, together in one place. I held tiny knitted baby booties in the palm of my hand and smelled the sweater that Elsie wore the day we left the hospital and came home. She was so tiny, it bagged off of her and the sleeves had to be rolled up.

It’s so small. It went with the booties, on stacks and stacks of the most special artwork from the boys.

Hospital bracelets, favorite photos, old letters and cards.

My intention with this big afternoon project was to make a pile for Goodwill and get other things ready to move. I promised myself I’d carefully consider each item, in every bin, because who wants to move more things when you don’t really really need them?

The keepsakes, though. When it comes to our children, I won’t let go. Strange for a minimalist like me, but there are certain things you simply do not do away with. That onesie that was my favorite on Miles and then on Asher. A pair of the tiniest socks you’ve ever seen. A card from a dear friend who was almost as excited as we were that our first baby had come.

There is another bin that holds old letters and pictures and things from before I got married and had children. The things I’ve had trouble getting rid of in the past–things carried across miles and years to tuck away in a basement, unvisited until forced. I went through them again, and just like the last move, I was able to put more in the recycling, more in the garbage. It hit me that this is a good way to know if I’ve let go, of this or that time, that person or that memory that was too strong to release, five or ten or twenty years before.

Some of it, some of them, will always stay, like my children. Heart constants. There are parts of the past that simply cannot be left behind. I used to think that if I worked hard enough at it, had enough therapy or something, my stomach would stop dropping at the mention of a name or a season. But no, that’s not how life works.

We move on, literally and figuratively and we recycle and we throw out and we keep.

So much of the time we are not the ones who get to decide what lands where. We don’t know until we hold the very thing in our hands and stand there a moment, thinking over how it would feel to let go.

A few times I said, No, not yet, and I tucked the thing away again, back in its holding space. A few times I tossed the pile of letters in the recycling and took a deep breath that was a short funeral of sorts. I felt nothing and then knew it was right.

That will never happen with the baby or childhood things. Those are the ones we want to keep, to slow down, to freeze both vivid and blurred in whatever year they’re from. And so we do.


This is the 74th installment of Just Write, an exercise in free writing your ordinary and extraordinary moments. {Please see the details here.} I would love to read your freely written words so join me and link up below. You can add the url of your post at any time. Just be sure it’s a link to your Just Write post, not to your main page, and please don’t link to posts that are not freely written in the spirit of capturing moments–you know, don’t link to how-to lists or sponsored posts. I want people to remember that this is about writing and not about traffic. Also, please link back to this post in your post so people know where to go if they’d like to join in. 

Please take a moment to visit someone else who has linked up! It’s a really good way to meet new writers and get inspired by the meaning behind their moments. Word? Thank you!


Shelly Miller February 25, 2013 at 9:53 pm

Oh, I really love this. I’ve done this eight times, yes eight. On the last move, I finally let go of the stuff I was keeping that held the memories of before marriage. Like you, I didn’t even have a twinge, that is how I knew I’d finally let go. But guess what? I gave some of the baby clothes away that I never thought I would part with. Not all of them because I had boxes. My kids are teens though, and that was a piece of my mama’s heart letting them go and grow into adults. It was painful but needed. Thanks for taking me back there. You have a good way of doing that with your posts.
Shelly Miller recently posted..When Right Now is Just Right

Elaine February 25, 2013 at 10:43 pm

I cleaned out my closet yesterday and after going through the large pile of clothes I put two blouses back that I am just not quite ready to part with yet. And yeah, the baby things that are so special like that will make every move with me, until I am ready to pass them on…
Elaine recently posted..Just an Hour

Jayna @ Yankee Drawl February 25, 2013 at 11:45 pm

I am a minimalist at heart and try so hard to keep our “treasure chest” down to just one tote for baby things, but it’s tough! Moves are nice though, as an extra bit of motivation to weed out those memories once again.
Jayna @ Yankee Drawl recently posted..of magical places {just write}

Heather @Domestic Extraordinaire February 25, 2013 at 11:58 pm

I have a pair of velvety green bloomers that floats around on my dresser. Some days I find it intertwined with the belts and other days its on top of my jewelry box. I always sigh and place them back in my top drawer. These green velvety bloomers were too big for Giggles when she visited Santa at eight days old. They literally fell off of her. I look at her now; this beautiful young woman getting ready to graduate and leave home to conquer the world and it’s so hard to remember a time when those bloomers were falling off her little toosh a few days before Christmas.

Heather February 26, 2013 at 1:41 pm

OH your mama’s heart. These people, they grow up and go away. It’s no wonder we keep the bloomers on the dresser.


Jo@All Seven Seas February 26, 2013 at 12:29 pm

I’m in a similar state of mind in this season, gearing up for a huge move to Alaska, thinking about what to take and how many plastic bins to buy. I know well that three bins forward, two bins back tango we do with the keepsakes and the past, the way some treasure eventually turns to trash, the way some trash (hospital bracelets, a ticket stub, etc) will be treasure even after it is stained yellow by time.
Jo@All Seven Seas recently posted..Always and without the "if"

Heather February 26, 2013 at 1:39 pm

I’m loving the way you said this. I can’t believe you and your words sometimes. So poetic, even in comments.


Elizabeth Marshall February 26, 2013 at 1:20 pm

Thank you..this is never easy, always gut-wrenching. Thank you for this new approach, fresh perspective. This was for me today, Heather. You bless a sister.

Heather February 26, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Oh thank YOU. I don’t always aim to bless a sister, so it means a lot to know that I did, by telling my story all random and fast :)


Sara February 26, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Sometimes I get on a roll and love getting rid of stuff, but sometimes I hit a wall. It isn’t that the next thing and the thing after and the thing after are more important to me than the last thing I trashed or donated, but I’ve hit my limit for getting rid for a little while. It’s an on-going process.

One think I’ve had fun doing with some random souvenirs that have been gathering dust in the attic (a rubber chicken from several trips with a friend, the magazine with the festival I went to with my sister on the cover . . . ) is to write a letter to the person who shared the experience with me and mail them the item with the letter. (The point isn’t to pass the buck or fill up somebody else’s space, but to share the memory and the trigger for the memory. I know in many cases what I sent was trashed or recycled or otherwise moved along, but made the person smile.)

Heather February 26, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Sara! I love that idea so much! I’m going to take a cue from you and send on some of these memories to make my friends smile. Such a great thing to get in the mail! Thank you!


Stephanie Precourt February 27, 2013 at 9:00 am

I still have boxes to go through, moved twice now, because I just wasn’t ready! I keep saying, when the weather gets warmer because they’re all in the garage, but I know what I’m really doing. :)

Stephanie Precourt recently posted..Do you see it?

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 3 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: