Content Warning: Mentions of loss, abuse and death
Modern gurus are the first to tell you your fascination for belongings is evil and should be avoided at all costs. Throw away what you don’t need anymore. Don’t cling to things of the past. Only keep what you use daily or that which is too dear to you. Twice in my life, I have lost nearly everything. Hearing the speeches from these gurus always upsets me. I know what it’s like to scour second-hand shops and flea markets in the hopes of finding anything resembling what I used to have as a kid. That’s not fun. So please don’t instruct me to throw away the few belonging of my past that I do still own.
I was born and raised in a regular family. There were struggles and tribulations, but you wouldn’t have seen it from the outside. My mother struggled with her physical and mental health and, when I was eleven, my parents divorced. The situation got messy, and I ended up living with my father. I loved it. He was a dear friend to me. We shared a love for computers, fantasy and computer games, so there were definitely no hard feelings there.
Losing the Family Home
My mother remained in our family home, her situation worsened, and she lost the house in the end. The weekend before the foreclosure date, my friend’s father drove me to the house with his van, and I salvaged what I could. I felt like I was burgling my own home. I tried to make sure I had the photo albums and several other keepsakes. Terrible though it was, I had no idea how much this would impact my life or my mother’s.
Losing Everything Again
Life went on, and I moved out at age nineteen. I moved to a small room, a student’s apartment, so I had little space for belongings.
I only returned home a few times. I worked a lot and was studying, and my father worked a lot too. He was then married to his second wife, a woman I hardly knew. I didn’t know what to do with the room in my father’s house. I’m terrible at moving and quickly lose oversight in what to move where.
My Life in Two Boxes
A while later, my father rented my room to sublet. In all honesty, I don’t know what happened to the belongings I had left behind.
When my father passed away, I retrieved some items from that house, but like two boxes in total.
The end result is that I have accumulated many goods over the years, but I have little from my youth. This hurts. Especially when I go to my mother in law who has the opposite problem. She has saved everything from when my husband was little and has received several households from deceased relatives. So what I lack, she has in abundance.
It has happened that they retrieved a specific puzzle from the attic, and I burst into tears. We had the exact same puzzle, and it brought back so many memories from how my mother and I played with it.
I feel stupid for clinging to these belongings. I mean, I own everything I need. If I want anything, I can go out and buy it. Why do I long for old stuff? Why am I so freaking jealous of people who do have a home to return to where their parents lived or, even worse, are still living? I remember my parents owned a plate I loved so much, I told my mum I wanted to inherit it upon her death. The plate is now lost. I had one book of planet constellations I loved staring at. It’s gone forever.
Despite my current stable situation where I’m married and live happily with my husband and our four cats, a tiny part of me feels lost. I feel like I’m not grounded like I’m still floating around. I also feel like a spoiled brat when I’m saying this. What’s worse is knowing all the stuff I lost is gone forever. I know my mother’s belongings were stashed in a container for her to pick up when things got better, but she told me tar had leaked from somewhere, so everything was ruined.
Lack of History
So yes, I do scour second-hand shops and flea markets, hoping to find stuff similar to what I had as a kid, whether it’s the glass you got for free with mustard in the 80s or my Fisher-Price toys. I lack nothing, really, but what I do lack is a sense of history. And that hurts a lot.