What Do You Keep?

Why do we keep things?

Old birthday cards. Special coins. Trophies and ribbons. Books. Mini sticks. Textbooks. Notebooks. Hundreds of magazines. A CD “collection”. Tickets to sporting events. One lacrosse ball.

Oh, sorry. I seem to have made that list all about me, unless you have kept one lacrosse ball in your possession.

Those items occupy space in my room, whether they’re out in the open on a bookshelf, or hidden away in a drawer, closet, or shoe box.

In Grade 3, they had us put a bunch of memories into a shoe box. Imagine that. Our well-travelled and cultured selves – at the near retirement age of 8 – putting a lifetime of memories into a box.

I can’t remember what I put in the box, but I do know my mom put blue felt on every side so it looked less like a shoe box and more like the home that Eiffel 65 sang about in their song, “Blue”.

I kept the box and put things in it as I got older.

There are dozens of old tickets to sporting events in it, going back to 1998. I hate how most tickets are printed out on paper these days. I refuse to collect paper tickets. It’s just not the same.

Also in my blue box are old birthday cards. Why? I don’t know. Throwing out a birthday card just feels illegal. If you’re going to do it, do it without telling me – that sorta thing.

I haven’t opened the box lately because there hasn’t been anything to put in it.

I’ve always liked shiny coins. To me, a shiny coin was a sign that it hadn’t been in circulation for long, which meant it deserved a closer inspection to see if anything was special about it. If it was a commemorative coin, I kept it.

In 2001, there was a special design on the Canadian dime. For some reason, I decided it was my lucky coin. I remember putting it in my sock one morning before school as a good luck charm for my intramural hockey game that day. My team was in the finals.

I don’t remember the result of the game, but I remember the dime moving around my sock the entire time. I played the entire game wondering how weird it would be if I stopped playing, bent down, and pulled a coin out of my sock.

I never got the answer.

Unlike coins, I’ve never been able to shove an entire book in my sock. Granted, I haven’t tried, but am now seriously curious as to how it would play out.

I have a bookshelf full of books. That is a misleading statement, however. There isn’t much variety. I have most, if not all of A Series of Unfortunate Events, as well as most, if not all the Harry Potter books.

See, I don’t even know if I have the entire collection.

I don’t read books twice. I don’t see the point. Which means I haven’t cracked open A Series of Unfortunate Events since a Christmas holiday during elementary school. I went through those books so quickly during the holidays, and there always seemed to be another one that followed.

As for Harry Potter, I’ve read the first book and most of the second. That’s it. Somehow, I did a book report on the second book.

I don’t know why I have the series. Maybe I just think it’s a cool thing to have and I’ll get around to reading them one day? I don’t know.

Most of the books on my shelf ones I’ve read in the last three years. 98% of them can be found in the non-fiction sports section of your local bookstore.

I’ve run out of space. There are bags of books on the floor in a corner of my room, which haven’t been read yet. I don’t know where their final resting place will be.

What do you do with books you’ve read and won’t read again? It’s a great dilemma.

You don’t throw out books, I know that for sure. So what do you do with them? You keep them and call them a “collection”. That’s what.

I haven’t even mentioned the hundreds of magazines in my drawers, which were once on my bookshelf. I think I counted them once and the number was around 250.

All of them are sports related and can tell you the history of sport from the early 2000s up until around 2011.

I got tired of magazines, but I don’t feel like I can get rid of the ones I have. What if they become useful in the future?

What if one day I want to read them? What if one day I want to get into a stubborn argument with my future wife about how keeping 250 old magazines in the basement isn’t stupid?

I can’t rob myself of moments like that.

I never had the intention of building a magazine collection. It’s just something that happened.

In my closet are a bunch of old university textbooks and all my notebooks. There are even some old assignments from high school that I’m proud of. Sometimes I’ll read them and think to myself, “My writing style hasn’t changed at all. Is that good, or bad?”

I never understood how someone could throw all of their binders in a garbage bin on the last day of school. It never sat well with me.

Maybe I’m the weird one. Maybe keeping old notebooks from school isn’t normal. But the ink between those pages – I paid for it. I woke up at 7:00AM rolled out of bed at 7:50AM and went to get it. I worked for it. Why would I just get rid of it?

I understand that I can probably Google everything that’s in those notebooks, but then what was the point of going to school?

Let’s see, what else from that list at the beginning of the post, haven’t I mentioned?

Mini sticks (mini hockey sticks): A staple of every Canadian’s childhood. I will never be too old for mini sticks, even if I don’t use them because it’s too tiring to move around a carpet on your knees.

Trophies & Ribbons: I have trophies from five years of softball and ribbons from school. They’ve been on display for the last 17 years. Why? It’s what you’re supposed to do, right?

CD “Collection”: In my 26 years on this planet, I have owned 4 CDs. Is that a record? My first CD was a Jazz CD. It’s a long story.

One Lacrosse Ball: I went to a lacrosse game when I was a kid and a ball came into the stands. An older man caught it and gave it to me. It’s been on my floor for about 16 years and has put quite a nice little dip in the carpet. It’s also gone from a beige colour to dark brown/orange. I think of it as a science experiment.

You’re probably reading this post and thinking I’m a hoarder in training (HIT), if I’m not one already. I promise you that’s not the case. I just seem to be handcuffed by societal norms.

Books go on a bookshelf. Trophies go on display. Old tickets and cards go in a box. Lacrosse balls carve out grooves in carpets.

Societal norms, all of them.

Why can’t I just throw this stuff out? Why can’t I separate myself from them?

Is it because I want a tangible memory? Is it because I naively think I’ll need them in the future? Is it pride? Is that it? Am I just proud to have these things? Am I afraid of losing the past?

I don’t have an answer yet. Let me keep writing.

Peaking out from behind a counter in my room is a bristle board that was folding into a card. It was given to me by a group of friends who threw a goodbye party for me when I was graduating.

They put a picture of me on the front and wrote messages on the inside. Every day, I see that picture of me peaking out from behind the counter. I’ve only gone back to read the messages inside it a couple of times. It’s too hard.

I can’t throw that out.

This stuff means too much, but at the same time, it’s just too much.

I wake up every day and feel like I’m in a museum.

“Welcome to the Paul exhibit. Please keep your voices down, he’s resting. Ignore the slobber on his pillow. To your left is a book from 2004.”

And I already know I’m going to get comments at the end of this post with pieces of advice that I won’t really care for. Sorry.

It bothers me that I gave away a nice piece of art at a garage sale when I was a kid, just because I had nowhere to put it. Why didn’t anyone stop me? It bothered me even more that one of my neighbours bought it. I’ve never gotten over that.

It bothers me that I traded in my Game Boy Colour for barely any money. Why didn’t anyone stop me?

It bothers me to know that I’m bothered by this stuff. That I look back with regret for getting rid of things I should’ve kept.

But for every item I can’t yet part with, there are items I can’t wait to get rid of.

For some reason, I was collecting bobbleheads. There were a bunch of them sitting on my desk. Again, societal norms. You’re given a bobblehead, you put it on a desk. Simple as that.

And then one day, I realized I don’t actually care about bobbleheads, and threw most of them out.

I don’t really know what I wanted to accomplish with this post, other than to remove these thoughts from myself. Ironic, isn’t it?

Maybe by keeping these items, I’m giving myself an identity. Or maybe I feel like I’ll lose myself, if I lose these items.

No, that’s not it.

Perhaps I just want to feel connected to the things that used to be important to me.

Yeah, let’s go with that.

What do you keep?

About Paul

I think of my blog as an all-you-can-read buffet. There's something for everyone and complimentary mints at the door as you leave.
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55 Responses to What Do You Keep?

  1. I keep old journals those are my time capsules for when Im feeling nostalgic I suppose. Birthday cards because my parents always write nice things to me one example being “You are a year older now, so glad we don’t have to buy you toys anymore love Mom and Dad.” Tickets from the fuzz lol. I have those on display not for being proud but to start the story of how I was court ordered to obtain a drivers license when I didn’t want to I refused for years and drove around anyways until I got caught. I still resent that cop for pulling me over and that judge for making me get a drivers license.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. m4gical says:

    Ohhh my god this post though, I’m loving it. I think we keep things for memories, even if we do it unconsciously. I wish my school made me put stuff in a box. Mines more scattered around my life. I want a box.
    I have a collection of old teen magazines (probably around 60+) and I looked through them when I moved out and they were so cringe I had to keep them, I’ve tried to part with them but I can’t. I also have the very first book I ever read, which was also the first book my mum ever read. I agree you can’t throw away books but mine are now stored in my parents loft, just like a lot of other stuff of mine. I have old train tickets and rocks and art projects from school and I also kept all my school books. Anyway I won’t bore you anymore than I have but I don’t care that your writing style hasn’t changed I love it. Much love x x

    Liked by 4 people

    • Paul says:

      Get a box! “They were so cringe I had to keep them” hahah so true. I think we’ll really appreciate old magazines and books in the future when everything is digital. What was the first book you read? You weren’t boring me at all, I wanted to hear more lol. Thank you for appreciating my writing style! I just laugh when I read old assignments because if there weren’t a date on them, I would believe I wrote them yesterday and not 10 years ago.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Angela says:

    OKAY! I keep EVERYTHING too, I’m a proper hoarder! I am dreading packing to move out because I have so much stuff I really can’t justify keeping, its keeping me awake at night thinking about it. I have boxes and boxes of CDs and DVDs, I haven’t bought any in about 8 years and I don’t even have own CD or DVD player. The Digital world is ruining keepsakes, I love keeping ticket stubs but I’m with you on the paper ones, they bug my happiness! Keep on hoarding!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Paul says:

      Oh well you have to keep the CDs and DVDs! They’ll be worth a fortune in the future (I don’t actually know that for sure). We have a bunch of VHS tapes including some that have home videos on it aka my 4th birthday party, but no VCR. Darn technological advances ruin everything. Keep hoarding, my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. markbialczak says:

    I think you should keep what’s important to you, Paul, as long as you have room to move around your house. I keep record albums, CDs and books, my friend. Some magazines and newspapers and assorted sports memorabilia, too.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Paul says:

      Oh yes, there is a ton of space to move around. Everything is neatly put in its spot. That sounds like a great collection, Mark. I grew up reading the sports section of the newspaper, but nothing ever stood out as worth keeping. I wish I had though, especially now that they’re slowly get phased out.

      Liked by 1 person

      • markbialczak says:

        I saved some stories that I wrote and impressive sections over the 30 years I worked at the paper, Paul, as well as important moments chronicled of the teams I’ve followed my whole life. Some of these have made it with me on several moves, now in plastic bins.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. I hope this doesn’t fall under the “advice I don’t need” category, but this post really resinates with me! Although, I have all my university notes on my external hard drive, and copies of all my essays and papers in electronic form. I think its comforting to keep things like this. I have hockey stubs and one puck from the time my mom bought a car and she told the dealer how much her daughter LOVED the Rangers and he had a puck from the time they won the Memorial Cup. She picked up her car and there it was on the front seat. I have a memory book which is just huge envelopes all stuck together for each grade. Report cards, pictures etc.

    As for books – write a little dedication and donate them to goodwill!! People like me will go and buy up every babysitter club book they can find just to make their collection. But I’m also the type who will re-read books over and over to keep enjoying the magic of it all.

    As for your future wife: save yourself the argument lol tear out the articles you like, throw away the magazines 😝 (ok that was probably adivce you didn’t want)

    Sorry for the uberness of this comment haha

    Liked by 4 people

    • Paul says:

      Tear out the article and throw away the magazine?? Haha you’re right, that’s the exact advice I didn’t want! It’s okay though. We’re still friends. But honestly, if I did that then I’d just be collecting a stack of paper and that doesn’t feel as cool as a bunch of magazines lol.

      That should be a mandatory thing at dealerships when you buy a new car. A hockey puck in the front seat! All these teams have car sponsorships anyways. That would be a cool feature.

      I’m a fan of your envelope collection chronicling each year of school. I just have old yearbooks and class pictures that came in those bags from Jostens. You probably know the kind lol.

      Don’t apologize for the uberness. Long comments are great!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Ely says:

    First of all, you ARE A HIT! Un-pun the pin, just a total HIT, lol. This post is so relevant. For me.. it’s artwork and Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day and Christmas Day projects my kids dedicate to me. How could I EVER throw those things out! The pile is HUGE LOL and I feel so many mixed emotions about it but I just can’t get rid of any pre k work or any grade level lol. I also have a HUGE issue with journals and notebooks oh dear Jesus and books? There’s just something about the sight of stacked books that wraps itself around me like a warm cozy blanket on a cold night. Idk. Hard to explain but certain things somehow become security blankets in our lives. They validate our existence in tiny ways. Like I was HERE. I DID DO THIS. Look! I can prove it. My kids DO LOVE ME look come see all this art they did for me. I AM INTELLECTUAL don’t you see all these books?! I AM A WRITER look at all these notebooks I can fill. Right?!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Paul says:

      Yes I completely understand that security blanket thing. Almost like we’ve built a fort around us of things we like and make us feel happy and safe, and no one likes to destroy their own fort, so we keep it up even if we outgrow it. I’m picturing the mountain of artwork you must have. Maybe put a hole punch in each one and tie it together with string and hang it on the roof as if they’re christmas lights? Nooo they’d be ruined with rain. Hmmm well that was my only idea. Tell your kids you will only accept money instead of art from now on? Hahah no don’t do that. I’m stumped. But yes, I fully get your dilemma of keeping things. Ok bye.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Squid says:

    I keep all my old journals, tiny t-shirts from vacations I went on when I was little, movie tickets if it was with friends or a good movie (both?), and a few stuffed animals and toys from my childhood that I lie to myself and say I’ll give to my little brother. Yeahhh, that’s never happening.
    I also tried to collect rocks from everywhere special I went for a while… I forgot to label them or anything, though, so that kinda flopped. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. leegschrift says:

    I keep faith. And hope one day life will be more important than stuff. Afraid to be alone with nothing but yourself? Give it a try.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Laura says:

    I have some pine cones from the Black Forest, some pebbles from the beach at Brighton and some weird seed pods I found on the floor of my best friend’s car in Würtzburg, plus a few beer coasters from various cities. Probably broke a few border security laws bringing it all back to Australia where it now sits on my bookshelf probably looking like junk to everyone but me.
    Also – a teapot made of thin glass which I am too terrified to actually use.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Very cool! If anyone asks you about the items on your bookshelf just refer to them as your “illegal belongings” and tell them you had to smuggle them over. That’ll gain their admiration! haha

      Liked by 1 person

  10. kedawithani says:

    I have a healthy habit of tossing things out but there are somethings that are worth holding on to. I still have my high school t shirt with all the signatures of my classmates. I have old reports, test papers… love letters… and more recently my child’s very gangrene looking navel string.. he’s 11. The memories are heart warming ❤ great post

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Little Rants says:

    I was just reading this – and I realised I’m such a hoarder. Not only do I hoard makeup, I have things people give me – I keep the wrapping. I should do a blog post. Should I?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. coin collection from my grandpa, old hockey card, somewhere my mom has a box of old happy meal toys including the muppets cast as NHL all-stars. Pucks, some from OHL and AHL games, no NHL ones though, my dog PJ’s old collars for some reason i had collected, i have others i can’t remember lolol nothing that has made a groove quite like that lacrosse ball, that is legendary

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      The muppets cast as NHL all-stars, oh man that would be great. Do PJ’s old collars still smell like him? You need to find a carpet and put a ball on it and let it sit for 15 years hahah

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Ariel Lynn says:

    I’m definitely not going to offer you any advice you can’t use. If anything, I might ask for some advice myself! I’m even worse than you – I collect hobbies (& their accompanying accoutrements), books, & clothing into which I’ll never again fit.

    All I gotta say is, watch out for those notebooks. Otherwise, you’ll end up like my Dad, who still has his grade school report cards (he’s in his mid-seventies now). He fully expects, & understands, that we’ll throw them out when he (G-d-willing, in the very distant future) passes – he’s gleeful that he’s put that responsibility on us. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  14. cd says:

    Such a relatable article! I always keep ticket stubs from concerts or sports events, sometimes even movie stubs, I also keep plane tickets, I love using them as book marks!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Pingback: The DLG Syndrome – lilrant

  16. Myka says:

    I’ll start by saying that when I was in College I found a quote from One Tree Hill, I think, about how you should have a life you remember without having to write it down. And I threw out all of my journals from childhood. I regretted that decision for a long, long time. Just the other day, I almost threw out the journals I currently have in my room – but I remembered regret, faintly, and I kept them. I keep things for a while, and then I throw them out because I realize my apartment walls are closing in on me – and I’m no longer the person I was when the memories meant something to me. I do, however, keep every note from my parents. Because I fear I don’t have many years left to collect them. .xo.

    “What if one day I want to read them? What if one day I want to get into a stubborn argument with my future wife about how keeping 250 old magazines in the basement isn’t stupid?”
    Did you just relate this to your wife you haven’t met yet? 🙂 Ah, luaP. Ahh!

    “My writing style hasn’t changed at all. Is that good, or bad?”
    Good. Because your writing style is relatable. It’s real, raw, wondrous goodness.

    “It’s also gone from a beige colour to dark brown/orange. I think of it as a science experiment.”

    “I don’t have an answer yet. Let me keep writing.”
    LOL yes, please, go on!

    “I don’t really know what I wanted to accomplish with this post, other than to remove these thoughts from myself. Ironic, isn’t it?”
    You managed to put into words how I feel about 93% of my posts. And I appreciate you immensely for this.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      I remember that quote from One Tree Hill too and I didn’t fully agree with it. Then again, my high school yearbook quote was something silly I made up which was “If you can’t remember something, it’s not important.” Don’t know how the two quotes connect but I feel like they might.

      Yes I did relate it to my future wife. Been dropping little nods to her throughout my blog so when she eventually reads ever posts she’ll see them ahahah

      I always like when you pull out specific quotes that you liked. I’m never sure what parts of my post people like unless they specify so thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Paul, your little blog sister is strange- I keep fortune cookie notes!!!! I’ve got a box of em. As soon as I open a fortune cookie, in the note goes to into my purse. Now today, the note inside my fortune cookie said “Even the greatest whale finds it difficult to survive in the desert”. Wha???

    Liked by 2 people

    • Paul says:

      Hahaha I have 3 fortune cookie notes sitting right in front of me on my desk. Must be a family thing. Did your fortune just call you a whale??? Should complain to the manager and get a free meal out of it lol

      Liked by 2 people

  18. Noor says:

    I thought we will be back in few months, but we never did, so it’s been five years and half since we moved out of our country now, and ever since that time, my family moved out 3 times around the same neighborhood 😐
    I think what built my habit of getting rid of things is that i had to ease the process of moving out every time by getting rid of clothes, books, and useless stuff
    I’m sure one day we’ll move out of this house too, so i might as well get rid of things right away instead of pilling them up, you know?
    So all i have is a collection of few notebooks i write irrelevant things on them
    A medium sized galaxy drawing i drew last year, i’v been wanting to write something on it and still haven’t figured it out, so it’s just thrown in my closet
    Two guitars, the first guitar is a red ugly one i bought few years ago (long stupid story) but i couldn’t stand it and eventually painted it white and drew a bit on it then hanged it on my bedroom wall for no reason
    Every time i look at it i think that i should continue drawing on it but i have no idea what to draw as well, the other guitar is black, and in good shape, i’v been wanting to get back to training on it so it’s in the closet for now as well
    Well i also have a yoga mat and few hand weights in there, i’m hoping to go back to them once i have the will to do so as well :3
    I actually realized i still have a CT film of my head from the time i had a terrible headache, few MRI films of my knee from the time i injured it in a soccer training, and an x-ray films of my legs from the time … oh well… another long stupid story
    Am i starting a films collection of my body parts here? pretty creepy i guess, yet it’s not creeper than the 14 hair braids i kept from the time i shaved my head, i’v been saying i want to donate those for 3 months now… typical me
    The stereoplayer i have on my desk, not that i use it that often, but i just appreciate it’s existence, i just know its there you know
    Every now and them o remember that i should eat that bag of protein bars a friend gave me before they expire in my closet, or at least give them away to a friend, but i never really do so
    i’m just too cheap i guess
    I think i’ll post this in my blog and update it every time we move out lol

    Great post Paul, bringing people together once again, god bless 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Thank you for the great comment! I’m worried about those protein bars though haha. Definitely give those away to a friend.

      The film collection of body parts is a bit creepy but kinda cool? Who else can say they have that? I also have a stereo player on my desk…I don’t use it that much but appreciate its existence too.

      I haven’t really moved around except when I went away for school so I’ve never been faced with going through all of my things and being forced to throw things out. I have thrown out old things, but it’s never been a matter of “it’s coming with me or it’s trash”.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Jad says:

    My only advice is to finish reading the Harry Potter books!!
    I can’t keep “stuff” because I keep moving across countries so all I keep is clothes, shoes and purses, you know the critical things!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Dutch Lion says:

    Paul, I’m 42 and been married for 17 years and you’re right, when you get married someday you too can experience the “hoarding twice as much stuff as you once did alone” phenomenon. You wrote, “What if one day I want to read them? What if one day I want to get into a stubborn argument with my future wife about how keeping 250 old magazines in the basement isn’t stupid?”

    Check out part of my magazine collection in my basement storage space. (trying to attach photo…….Copy, Paste…..)

    Did it work? Doubtful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      As soon as I saw you had commented on this post, I just knew you had a magazine collection of your own! 42? You don’t look a day over 30 as far as I can tell! Congratulations on 17 years of marriage – I guess the magazines weren’t that much of a problem lol. I can’t see the pic here but I see it on Twitter!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dutch Lion says:

        Yeah man, growing old is getting old. But it’s all good. Life is good. It gets better. It’s tough managing everything when you have a wife, two kids, etc. but it’s wonderful. It just seems to be going too fast. I’m never bored. Haven’t been bored in years. I don’t understand the concept of boredom anymore. I work in a high school part time and talking to those kids everyday keeps me young. It’s refreshing. I highly recommend it. Thanks for the comments!

        Liked by 1 person

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