Do you ever just get tired of all the paper in your house? Some days, I’d like to walk away from it all.
Landisdad and I finally bought a new car this weekend. After we made our deal, we came home to look for the title for the wagon that we were trading in, and I couldn’t find it in my filing cabinet. So we looked a couple more times in the same places. Then we looked through a bunch of boxes in the basement. Boxes that hold our combined history, plus the history of some other members of the family, too.
It made me wonder why we save so much paper, and who we’re saving it for? Will my kids actually ever read journal entries that I wrote during my freshman year of high school? Or notes from a class that landisdad took in grad school?
I realize that we have some legal obligation to keep our tax records going back seven years (or is it five?), but why am I hanging on to credit card statements that are that old? Needless to say, the shredder got a fair amount of use this weekend.
Our basement doesn’t just contain our ephemera–there are also the seven boxes of photographs from landisdad’s family that we’re supposed to be scanning, so they can be digitally preserved. Landisdad’s grandfather was an interesting, well-traveled guy–one of the pictures is of him and his wife with Yukio Mishima–and I can imagine that our kids and their kids would want to have that. But there’s a part of me that just wonders what we’re doing all this saving for.
For me, I know that part of the desire to save paper has to do with the dissolution of my childhood home. There are few things that were saved, when my mom and stepfather moved to a new house, and I moved in with my dad. For landisdad, the opposite is true–his childhood home was intact until the year that we moved East, and our house is full of furniture and books that came from that house.
I’d like my children to have some kind of a happy medium, although I do worry that I’m going to leave them with a huge mass of paper that they have to sort out when I’m 90, and ready to go into a home. I hang on to all kinds of work-related papers that I think are interesting–but what am I going to do, donate them to a university? Or perhaps use them for the basis of my memoirs? It all seems so improbable–sure they’re interesting to me, but will anyone else ever actually want to read notes from a meeting that happened 50 years in the past?
As for the car title? It never did turn up. Thankfully, the fine folks at motor vehicles were able to print us a new one this morning. But that’s one piece of paper we be hanging on to for another ten years.