Sentimental Journey

The following blog post was written by Not Betty White, an anonymous contributor. Interested in writing for this blog? Contact me. I’m open to most topics, save for politics and religion. Facebook and Twitter can keep that. You can identify yourself or remain entirely anonymous. If the latter, your secret is safe with me. Not all submissions will be accepted, but I encourage you to give it a whirl regardless. Don’t let fear stand in your way.

Alexa, play Frank Sinatra’s Sentimental Journey. We’re taking a quick trip down memory lane.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a nostalgic, sentimental person. Before I knew what those words meant, I still understood that I attached meaning to nearly everything.

As a small child, every stuffed animal and doll had a name and a home in my room. Except the porcelain dolls my grandma always gave me at Christmas. My mom would always say, “Be careful, they’re porcelain.” But my little 4 year old self thought she was saying, “Be careful, they’re poison.” So those creepy death dolls stayed exiled on a shelf.

As I grew into my “tween” years, my collection of Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys memorabilia became my most prized possessions. And, as a teenager I began saving every concert ticket, band tee shirt, and kept mounds of pictures from disposable cameras, that I always had with me, to capture any fleeting moment with friends.

In each phase of my adolescence, my mother would urge me to get rid of the things I was no longer interested in. And, almost always, I could never bear the thought of letting these precious things go. I might have been nominated to be the first child on Hoarders had it been on air at the time.

Somewhere along the way, this stopped for me. Maybe not all-together, but I’m not saving movie ticket stubs or clothes that I don’t wear anymore. It’s not that certain things aren’t special to me in my adult life. I have kept a few things in recent years that hold special meaning. The things just became less.

Maybe it’s a part of growing older, that there are less things that hold that sentimental sparkle. Maybe it’s that I’ve moved roughly a dozen times in my adult life and I’m just tired of packing boxes.

Within the last year, I’ve taken on the Marie Kondo method (kind of). In my last move, I got rid of so many things that didn’t matter to me. Do I need 24 kitchen towels? No. Do my high heels that my dog chewed a bow off of as a puppy (he’s 12 now) need to take up space in my closet? No. So I purged and I organized. I’ve also become a bit of a neat-freak in my early thirties.

Last month I picked up three Rubbermaid storage containers, the kind you might keep Christmas decorations in, from my ex-husband. The containers had been left in our storage for years and he was clearing it out. After roughly four years apart, the storage unit was the last thing that tied us together. I picked up the storage containers and drove home planning to go through them and planning to have a full-on emotional meltdown — memories, emotions, life!

And then the complete opposite happened. I spent a Friday night taking a sentimental journey through my youth. I opened the first container with a deep breath and the first thing I uncovered from a newspaper was my lava lamp.

Pure joy.

I was like a kid on Christmas morning. It was my hot pink lava lamp and the tie-dye base it sat on. I plugged it in and it worked! A few minutes later and the lava was flowing. I opened a shoe box of CDs and found everything from Spice Girls’ debut album Spice, to my favorite CD from my angsty teen years, Brand New’s Deja Entendu.

I don’t have a CD player in my house, but I decided to throw on 90’s Pandora to complete the mood. And there I sat for nearly four hours, by the glow of my lava lamp and the songs of my youth, looking at every last thing in those bins. I had handwritten notes, passed from friends in the hallways at school, letters from my high school boyfriend, my studded belt (can you tell how cool I was?), and pictures from some of the best days of my life.

After I (neatly) re-packed everything into the bins, with my feet completely asleep from sitting cross-legged on my living room floor, and the most genuine smile on my face, I sat there with the happy feeling that I had found a bit of myself again. A little bit of my past self, when everything was precious and exciting and fun.

It may sound cheesy, but I’m so happy that my younger self insisted on keeping all these things. Future self really needed it.

My five year old niece is coming to visit for Thanksgiving this year. I told my mom I would like to give her my Barbie Dream House (with a working elevator!) if she wants it. I asked mom if she could pull it out of her shed, where she kept all of my childhood treasures. Mom asked me if I’d like to give her my collection of Spice Girls Barbies too. Absolutely not.

Written by: Not Betty White. Dog mom, cheese loving Richmonder, with love in her eyes and flowers in her hair.

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