Thursday, June 4, 2020

On Parting with the Past

During our ongoing COVID hunkering, The Kitten has been very busy with various projects that we have long put off, made somewhat worse by her Mother's death last year and her duties as executor. Between us, there is a good deal of the past that needs cleaning up, looking into, throwing out, and passing along. She is a great respecter of the past. Her family history in this county goes back to the mid 1600's, she has a sharp eye for colonial era antiques, and she is far better at appreciating the value of things than I am. This is a very pleasant way of saying that she doesn't like to throw things out, and donating them is often a difficult decision. But she has made the decisions, she is working hard, and progress is being made. Along the way, I have been made to examine my own approach to the accumulation of things, and that is what this post is about. 

The Navy, and its tendency to move me from place to place every 30 months or so, created in me a dedication to not only having only what I need, but in divesting of things every time the moving van's arrival was imminent. Over the 21 years I was in the Navy, I gave away a LOT of stuff. Beds, bedding, towels, kitchen stuff, clothes, whatever. At each new duty station, I arrived lightly equipped, and added a little here and there.

When I left the Navy and accepted The Kitten's offer of bliss here on the Farm, I began what has turned into a new experience for me as an adult--living in one place. I've been here over twelve years now, and honestly, I've become something of a pack-rat. We have a nice sized place, but most of the available storage (see para 1) was taken, so ten years ago, I started renting a storage unit. In it were placed items of furniture, old computers/monitors/printers, the bedding and linens from my final Swinging Bachelor Pad (some of you remember it, we all honor it), the kitchenware from the Swinging Bachelor Pad, boxes of books that didn't make the cut to be on my bookshelves, lamps, prints (yes, the frolicking beagles and the hunt scenes), etc. And there are other things there. A box of uniforms. A box of the stuff I pulled off USS BULKELEY when I left--a copy of every fitrep I signed, every letter I wrote, pictures, photo CD's. Every plaque I ever got in the Navy. Photos. Memorabilia. But that's not all. Virtually every note I ever took in grad school, all the papers I wrote, and a good bit of the undergraduate versions thereof. It's all there. 

For the longest time, The Kitten--from her glass house--has chided me for the expense of the storage unit. Up until I lit myself on fire politically, I would tell her that I need all that household stuff to set up a DC apartment when my people come into power and I go to work in government. I abandoned that hope several years ago, and made a halting first step last summer when my Godson--newly commissioned Ensign James A. Blanford, USCG--and I raided the unit for stuff to help him set up his first place--in Kodiak, AL.  I felt really good passing that stuff along.

This morning, The Kitten asked me if I had room in my storage unit for some of the treasures from her mother's house. While I of course, wanted to to a little end-zone dance proclaiming how wise I was for spending $900 a year for ten years on it, I said "of course", and then headed across town to it to make sure I wasn't lying. It was 2/3 full or so, but I have a loaner while my car is getting serviced, and it is one of those little SUVlets with some storage area. I folded down the seats, and dedicated a little time to making some more room for The Kitten's treasures.

I made two trips back and forth to Goodwill. The first was primarily books. Between us, The Kitten and I have accumulated a LOT of books. With her came along all the books accumulated by her late-husband, and so between the three of us are seven degrees and decades of book accumulation. Then there are her mother's books. I have a wall full of books in my ManCave, we have bookshelves in our bedroom, our upstairs master, and our library/dining room. We have a ton of books. But there are no longer any books in my storage unit.

I've begun to wonder about the breezy way I acquire books, and whether I am just saddling my heirs with the backbreaking job of figuring out what to do with them. I'll be on the Metro reading a book review, and then I'll hit the link to Amazon and buy it. I do this more than I ought. Because I see my retirement as the golden age of reading--I just may decide to do it all on a Kindle in order not to be such a burden.

I donated two Keurig coffee makers. I donated the linens and kitchen stuff from my last apartment. There will be no DC apartment. 

There are a ton of electronics that need to go bye-bye, but most of what remains for some odd reason, continues to have meaning for me. When I got home, I talked to The Kitten about my morning, and she said she understood pretty much all of my decisions except the one to retain the undergrad and grad school work. I thought long and hard about it, and decided it was just too soon. 

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