After taking Alex to college, I resolved to clean his room. It’s full of typical teenage junk he’s collected over the years, but mostly with his door shut, I haven’t looked at it in years. Alex knew this was coming; he took the stuff that was important to him, and I promised to store memories for him like his dragon collection. The important things will still be there.
I brought a big green trash bag upstairs; I hit the bathroom first because it was easy. Astringents and old toothpaste tubes were easy to throw away. Then to his study; throw away scraps of paper and old dinged up pencils. Then to his bedroom; I threw away a broken boombox.
Then I opened a drawer, and years of memories poured out with a simple scrap of paper. When Alex was very young; 3 or 4 perhaps, he brought home a little plaster kit from Montessori school. We made a little muddy patch outside, and then I made our dalmation Sampson step in it. Then we let the mud dry and poured in the plaster.
The result was an absolutely hideous plaster cast of Sampson’s foot. Ugly as all get out, but that didn’t matter really. We made it together. He took it to school where a teacher made a construction paper sign that said, “Samson’s Paw by Alex”. She misspelled the dog’s name.
Last night when I opened the drawer, there was the contruction paper sign. “Samson’s Paw by Alex.” A scrap of paper, really. Not even in my son’s handwriting, and no reason not to throw it out. I stood there for maybe 5 minutes, but 14 years passed before I opened the big green trash bag and dropped it in.
This cleanup is going to take longer than I thought.