The dull ache asserted itself firmly in the pit of my stomach as I tossed the old scrapbooks into the recycling bag. Absurd that a few moldy sheets of paper - most of them blank - would cause such a surge of regret. A stack of photo albums four feet high quickly followed.
I assembled the scrapbooks in grade one; they were filled with bubblegum cards and newspaper clippings of the first space shuttle launch. The photo albums were scrapbooks of a sort as well. During university, I would snip interesting artwork and photos from magazines and promotional brochures; these I would slide into the albums, each page a bizarre collage.
As I attempted to create space in my library and office, I took a hard look at how much volume this sort of junk was occupying. If I didn't get rid of some of it, I'd eventually fill every available cubic centimetre of our new home. That wasn't fair to Sylvia, and even I have a tiny sense of aesthetics.
So out went the scrapbooks. I also opened up the numerous old biscuit tins, pencil cases and duffel bags accumulated from grade school to university, each filled with everything from genuine mementos to stuff I'd never use - an unopened packet of reinforcements, for example. Remember those? They adhered to the holes in your foolscap so that the pages wouldn't rip so easily from your high school binder. The price tag read 39 cents. I wonder how much they cost now, if they're sold at all.
Four bags of garbage and recycling made a significant dent. I kept the buttons, the pins, a handful of old-school plastic soldiers, cowboys and indians, and most of the stuff I made during shop class in junior high. (The cannon crafted on the metal lathe was the best of these amateur projects.)
I wasn't saddened because I was tossing away much of my past. I was saddened because doing so...wasn't saddening me. I wonder if that means I'm growing up or getting old.