I have been clearing out my home for the last few weeks. Needs have necessitated space. It has been a good process, a lot of stuff we have needed to get rid of because it serves no purpose and holds no monetary or sentimental value; those items we put away that we never remember to actually sort through. There have been some pleasant discoveries too, old memories from old toys. Many moments of, ‘Oh I remember that!’ Were we really that small?
As good as it has been to de-clutter, I know that it has been hard for everyone involved to let go of some items. We have had to be ruthless in our clearing, sometimes necessarily so because there is simply no need to keep a vacuum cleaner we no longer use simply because we still have lots of vacuum bags. Why do we even have two in the first place? Other items, years of schoolwork – essays and notes, as much as you may want to keep hold of them, they really serve no purpose. They have to go.
I thought that I was doing quite well. I am as guilty as anyone of keeping hold of things. I am also probably more guilty than most of accumulating items. Books. Coins. Comics. DVDs. Ticket stubs to shows I have seen. Issues of Empire magazine. The last being what I chose today to clear out. The last being the one I am finding hardest to let go of.
In my mind I thought I would have a bigger place by now. Somewhere I could have shelves around the tops of the walls or a whole wall dedicated to shelving that would hold my collection. Every issue since 1997, in perfect chronological order. The reality is quite different. They have, for the past 15yrs that I have been reading Empire, been stacked in various corners, put in various boxes, pretty much forgotten about. Leafed through only a few times since their first reading. So why was it so hard for me to box them up knowing they were going to a new home? Sentimentality.
There is little in my life from 15yrs ago that is still in it now, a few friends certainly, but the life I lead when I started reading this magazine is very different from the life I have now, very different from the one I had imagined. I suppose those magazines are a reminder of that time. At times they were my company during a quiet shift at work, sometimes they were my only travel companion on a long flight across the water, more often than not they were insights into the world of film that I chose to escape to. Perhaps when I explain it like that my sentimentality is more understood.
Maybe in years to come when I have more money and more space than I know what to do with, when I finally have that wing of the house dedicated to books, or even just a whole wall, I will consider rebuilding my collection again; probably not. They will never be my magazines again. As I look at these covers one last time, put aside a few issues that I allow myself to keep, I am boxing up a part of my history. My story. Making room for the future I have yet to lead. And though I know it is a necessary thing, that I need to let go, it’s still hard.