October 19, 2006

Old Things

I attempted to clean my apartment this weekend and I came to a conclusion afterwards: I’ve got a problem with old things. Clearly. I either throw too many things away or I keep too much. See folks, I’m a pack rat of the highest order(This must be genetic. You people should see the Shelkey’s unfinished basement in which is stored legions of crap. Some of my cousins love to go down there when they visit just to marvel at all these weird stuff we have). But I also go through puritanical cleaning binges where nothing is safe. I’m a bit of a loon like that.

I’ve got a shirt from 9th grade that was in this series of Olympic shirts that Adidas(Did you make up acronyms for this when you were little? We did. It was either: All Day I Dream About Sex[if you were dirty] or All Day I Dream About Soccer[if you were a johnny good schmuck]) made. Mine was London, 1932. Well, I still have it. Am I ever going to wear it again? Prolly not. But I have it. (Just in case.) (Just in case what?) (I don’t know.)

I’ve got one of those shoeboxes filled with old letters and pictures and little odd things. We’ve all got one of those right? Poems that a girlfriend once wrote you, and pictures from places you went with, magnets, and bracelets, and rings. Sometimes, after a break-up, you’ll do a purge. Where you gather everything together and you throw it out. This is a mistake. Because sometimes, you throw out something that you’re gonna miss.

For instance, I used to go out with an artist. And she would often send me postcards. And she’d always make the postcards. Literally, she’d make the paper. And she’d draw all over the postcard. And she’d send me different stuff she made. It was like going out with Griffon and I was Sabine. I guess it’s the other way around. Well, Griffon done threw out those postcards. And I wish I still had ’em. Because they were pretty wonderful. Those little pieces of art.

The really amazing thing that I threw away was I wrote something in highschool that was called, “Highschool Mediocrity”. It was… it was basically a novel. Maybe a novella. But it was definitely upwards of 50 pages. So maybe it was just a pamphlet. Or a treatise. What do you call something that short? In h.s. though, that’s a tome. It was also, hilariously awful. Anyway… after reading it again upon entering college, I got frustrated with it(what is this drivel?!) and I threw it away. Mind you, this was all written longhand. So that puppy is gone. But I wish I had it back. Because I’d like to read what a young Nathan Shelkey thought in 9th grade about all the poseurs around him. (I remember being particularly annoyed at some people we used to call the railmasters. They were these popular kids that would hang out at this rail above a stairway at the crossroads of a huge intersection at school. Where Senior Hall met the Foreign Language Hall.)

Siobhan and her sister are journal keepers. (Sidenote: I’ve always thought journals were strange. I mean, they are something that is supposed to be private right? But yet you write it down. So clearly, some part of you is writing this to be read. But only by you? How can you control that? It’s like Emily Dickinson’s poems. Was she really just writing them for herself in that lonely room next to the graveyard? I think she was writing them for someone else. She didn’t know who was going to read it. But she wanted someone else to read it.) Me? I’m like someone who’s trying to kick a habit. Only I’m trying to start. I start it up, and then I quit. And I start it up again, and then I falter. But these girls? They’ve done it since they were like 12 years old. Imagine having written in a journal since you were 12. And keeping all of them? Part of that is batshit crazy. But you have to admire the sheer work ethic and the just weight of it all. Because you get to see what you were like at any moment in time.

(My mom had a journal that we found and there’s an entry that was so amusing to us. It read, “Today, was a good day. Jerry and all the boys winked at me at school.” Now, that seems sort of silly right? But I mean, if you’re in highschool what is more important than Jerry and all the boys winking at you? Nothing. What was she supposed to be thinking about?)

So if I wanted to know how I felt about Jenny Stafford, I could go look that up. But now, I’m just left with my memory. But when do you throw something away, and when do you keep it? And what are you keeping it for? I don’t know. But I’m surrounded by old things. And they haunt me.


  1. Mark Johnson

    Very funny and true. I’m doing the purge now after 13 years of neglecting the obligatory spring cleaning because I’ve been working 10 1/2 hour days the whole time. Very cool site!

  2. Nate

    thanks Mark! good luck, i’m sure there’s a lot to wade through. plus i have to do taxes. yeesh. hopefully, i can work some magic and get some money back.

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