I spent the good part of the day going through my desk drawers at home. I sorted through papers, pens, books, posters, scraps and scraps of bits of paper marking events, places, and times that meant something at some point. So many of these things were untouched or barely used. When I was little, I thought these things recorded my life. They had this mystical quality, existing in my room and becoming a part of the environment—a space that was a sign of what I wanted to be. I defined my life by the things I saw around me, the trinkets I’d collected. I did not know the magical transmutability of things used—of journal pages filled with messy writing, of a stationary set emptied, of thank you notes sent, and a mind broadened by the book of puzzles my best friend gave me when I was eight. I preferred instead to leave them in their wrapping, perfect and pristine. Left for the dust and roaches, until I discovered them again, only to wonder why they had been hidden.
I placed more value in looking at these things, rather than using them as a means to an end. It was a creative stoppage, a gout—a gluttony. I was a little dragon eying my treasures, hoarding shiny plastic toys lying on others people’s stories and daydreams. I lived so much in stasis, and my body followed my thoughts.
Looking at these things, I realized that it is true; they do have a magic quality to them—they reminded me of so much I had forgotten in the past years as my mind filed away memories to make room for new adventures. But it is a scrappy patchwork; this paraphernalia also gives false witness, imperfect testimony to the events—parties, concerts, classes, friendships—to which they are attached. I was not always very present or happy at those moments. The passed notes, the saved invitations, the monogrammed bags—markers of friendships I did not maintain, bits of hope I did not pursue. So much energy wasted in worry and obsession. Compulsions I had allowed to drive me, rather than learning to drive a car when I was at the ripe old age of 16. Instead, I crossed that stretch of I-95 with my mother every day, complained about not living close enough to people, and slept when depression overcame me. It was a stagnancy that invaded my mind and arrested my reality.