We’ve been cleaning – we still are – the house since we decided to buy new furniture. Last Saturday, after I came home from Kawaii in Manila 2, I was surprised by the mess our house was in: our television rack was sold, a drawer of Mama’s VCD collection was thrown on the side, cable lines haphazardly hung and connected, and the TV on the floor. I didn’t have time to really process what had happened, but all I know was that I needed to put my books in boxes so we could move the book shelf. And I did.
I didn’t really think I had a lot of books. Compared to my friends from the university, who I know have piles of books outside their bookshelves, I only had one book shelf wherein I could shove my books and not worry about the shelves falling. They weren’t many, I thought. Until I put them in boxes: two to three boxes I could barely lift. That was a lot considering I wasn’t one who read the Harry Potter series before year 2000 or owned Dr. Seuss books before I turned 10. Two boxes full of books I bought and got during my stay at the university. That was a lot.
Packing things is exhausting both physically and emotionally. You start to see things beyond the covers. How old is this book? Who gave it to me? Ah, I can’t believe I still have this; I could sell this instead. Papers! Why do I keep so many papers with scribbles on them?
Even though, currently, the house is in a fairly organized state – walls were now painted, furniture set to right places – I still wanted to declutter. What things don’t I need anymore?
I unearthed folders and envelopes filled with paper and scribbles.
It felt like the scribbles were unsolicited reminders to future me. I drew them during a time I felt like I was Jack of All Trades, Master of None, and happy with it. It was an era when I was filled with both verbal and visual inspiration, juvenile and overwhelmed with angst and opinion. I snickered at how how emo I was, but the scrap was nonetheless interesting. Still interesting.
I found comics I wrote and drew when I was in high school, essays and stories written by juvenile me and those inspiring ones I kept written by my friends and classmates. I decided that I would read some of them and retype them in the computer before throwing them, lessening the cascades of old and dust-covered papers.
I also found a book review on Paulo Coelho’s The Zahir bragging that I read it three times, and a movie review of Romeo and Juliet starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Clair Danes. Parting is such sweet sorrow…
The next day, I continued separating necessities and unnecessary baggage. I opened a box of clothes: gowns I wore to the prom, costumes I handmade for cosplaying, over-the-top headbands, a cheap fedora hat, and tangled wigs. I wouldn’t wear them anymore, so I decided to throw the Lily Rochefort costume my mom helped me sew, the prototype Saber Alter Lolita dress, and some detachable accessories to a foam-and-fabric-made Saber Alter armor. It reminded me how much I liked cosplay then, but how pathetic I really was. My liking of that Japanenese subculture and my passion for anything Japanese was the only drive that made me participate in cosplay then. My sewing skills were terrible. But that was juvenile me; again, another unsolicited reminder how much impractical things inspire me to go beyond the box. That rashness – or rather juvenile confidence – is probably what I need nowadays.
Everyone will have that general cleaning day that probably isn’t scheduled. However, decluttering isn’t just an act of dusting rooms and furniture visitors will see, but a releasing of emotional baggage as well. Parting, indeed, can be such sweet sorrow. But even when you stop bringing the tangible things, take one last look and you will likely be reminded that you still need them, not in your basement, though, but in memory. You remember what they taught you, not what they look like.