Throughout the thrifting altruistic veneer is this sense of treasure hunting, whether for profit or to recreate memories from youth, where prizes like this duplicate of a childhood collection of wildlife flash cards could be yours for $5. The only problem is that these weren’t my flashcards; they were just around. I have no attachment to either the box or the contents inside, but when you frequent thrift stores, you might occasionally come across similar paramnesias.
The box on the right was like completing a project.
Except it didn’t. My excitement over finding a box that replaced its contents with random flashcards, rather than an old collection of pins I’d forgotten about but upon looking through them reminded me of certain events throughout childhood, was misguided in that, sure, it was the “authentic” contents of this green plastic box, but it wasn’t what it had become: “my box” with “my contents.”
Why would I become obsessed with something like this?
For the same reason that I still personalize, or even personify, certain objects I use daily. The coffee machine I wrote about infrequently, one where once a month it would not work correctly so I cradled it and treated it as though it were some kind of ornery person that I, alone, understood, died today. After some time tinkering, where I determined its heating element had given out, I threw it out.
I bought another one from… not a thrift store.
I’m not completely averse to the idea of buying a used coffee machine, although as I was browsing a local big box superstore for the cheapest one around, I thought “how ungrateful, [old] coffee machine, I even bought vinegar specifically to descale you…,” which I suppose would have been a necessity. Instead, I just bought the cheapest one, washed it a bit, brewed some coffee, and was fine.
These are objects and not people or creatures.
Maybe we attach these personality quirks to objects out of a sense of loneliness? Surely a coffee machine that had joined me on two bustling weekend reporting outings deserved some sort of personality? It’s no person, no pet, and no plant. With my overall waning nostalgia, I would have no use for a broken trophy of a “fallen soldier,” let alone memories I didn’t even have of things I didn’t use.
It’d be different if I actually used the flashcards.
As it stands, it’s a nice glimpse into what the box had originally contained, although now, I’ve since moved that collection of pins into a bag along with my old pencil collection, part of my childhood collections I don’t quite want to give up yet. I still have plenty of things I can purge first, including things that I bought because I liked the idea of having the “original” along with a “modified” version.
Now I don’t have space or time for false memories.
I’m only keeping what is real, applicable, and positive toward the brightest future I can actualize, whether through daily effort toward a constant reality where I could be a published author of writings or some sort of professional working in a capacity to receive a steady paycheck. Other than glancing through essays like this, I have no need for physical representations of such ideas.
I’m also not interested in “getting a deal, man.”
So what if I paid maybe twice as much for a brand new coffee machine? I wasn’t expecting to go out to the store today, so it was a necessary inconvenience that I couldn’t delay another day due to the timing of working with the Blah Blah team, but it was about one hour to get ready to go, drive over, put gas into my car, buy one and some groceries, drive back, set it up, and test it.
I wouldn’t have saved much time going to a thrift store.
Coffee machines have no nostalgic value to me. The one that died today was maybe the third or fourth one I’ve bought for myself over the years? I donated the one before it a few weeks ago, one of those fancy single-serving brewers that are more pretentious than useful, and the one before it died an ungracefully gurgling death some years back. This essay is proving to be enough memories for these machines.
I’m not a professional coffee brewer.
I’ll let you in on a little secret here, too: I have no concern over the taste of coffee, so long as it has caffeine in it. I’ve been drinking drip coffee for, wow, ten years around this time. Here’s a real memory for you: I worked on the night shift, and in exchange for helping out, I received fresh coffee. For someone that had never had any caffeine before even through college, and worked nights, it was nice.
But I don’t, like, have photos of those old cups of coffee.
It’s OK to get rid of memories that we do have, or relegate them to recessed, extended passages like these, where we can wax the nostalgia around the formation of our habits because that’s probably one of the few true reasons why we should keep memories like these. Why else would I keep the old coffee machines or those boxes of someone’s childhood? To display, with some sort of pride?
I’d rather display my fondest memories.
As I look around my downsizing areas, I see: my first real guitar that I’ll donate once I photograph it and remove its stickers, miscellaneous computer parts I don’t need several duplicates of, my temporary sorting queue for some of my CDs, and much more. Why am I not, instead, seeing some of my proudest accomplishments or trophies that took actual effort to achieve? I have plenty of signed memorabilia, things that make me happy every time I see them, and many other material objects that I would actually be sad if they were to become destroyed one morning.
I realize I’d rather have trophies, earned through skill, than easy purchases.
|Sources: My personal experiences.|
|Inspirations: We’re over 1,000 words in, so let me say that the reason why this is so vague and scattered is that I hid behind analogies mainly because it’s easier to express emotion that way for me than to say it directly, sometimes. The old place is up for sale today, which stirred up some mixed feelings: I’m happy to have moved on, and I’m continuing this series at full-force because I still have so much excess left to purge from what I own that in a sense it’s like taking the remaining amount of time on my lease to save moving time. I’d still rather have a one-day, one-truck move-out in either February 2020. After I spent a few hours shuffling things around and recycling a few boxes of things, the spare bedroom does look emptier, but I know I still have a few carloads worth of stuff to get out of storage, and that this was the easiest stuff to donate, since it was the stuff I didn’t have much attachment to at the old place. It’ll be nice to have downsized to a point where I could, say, just take everything with me on a cross-country hike across the apartments or rental homes of America, sometime in the future, or in other ways just be more flexible than I am right now, where I can’t even row at home without worrying about being too loud. Sure, the neighbor kids are loud, but rowing is louder. I just want peace.|
|Related: Other Downsizing Zeal essays.|
|Photo: Just the two boxes featured throughout the essay, rather than anything else, because those will be featured in other essays with other photos.|
|Written On: April 12th [90 minutes]|
|Last Edited: First draft; final draft for the Internet.|