I went out to throw something away last night and noticed a pile of books and envelopes sitting around the recycling bin. I poked through them to see if Rayda was throwing anything of true value away. We have been trying to rid ourselves of hundreds of books which will not be read again by us. If they might be read again by someone we donate them to the Library resale shop. If we think that no one would read them, we throw them away. This is something that should have been done many years ago and something most people do all the time, not waiting for the spare rooms to bulge with irrelevant reading material.
But in the stack of paperbacks and hard covers I found something I had not seen in awhile, a silkscreen portrait of myself which was done in 1973.There I was, a 20 year old staring out at myself, each of us wondering just what happened to that guy. I could not imagine parting with the picture, even though I had managed to live over a decade, and maybe much longer than that, without seeing (admiring) it and was pretty sure that I could have lived the last years of my life without ever thinking about it again.
I am nostalgic by nature and a hoarder by compulsion. I have hundreds of 50 year old baseball cards in my house, despite the fact that they have almost no value and that I never look at them. I have the remnants of the stuffed animal I slept with when I was one year old. When I say remnants, I mean remnants, something that could only be identified by dental records, if they kept such things for stuffed lambs back in the 1950s. If I am not very careful I could end up one of those old guys who dies amid so many piles of newspapers that no one notices I’m gone for several weeks. Rayda and I once helped clean out a house like that (her widowed aunts) it makes a big impression on you. But that kind of hoarding is linked to dementia, my kind is simply a personality disorder, possibly a mild ocd. As long as I am married it will not get too far out of hand. I took a Compulsive Hoarding test on line and it indicated no more than a borderline problem (just a little crazy).
Putting personality disorders aside, was it wrong of me to rescue the silk screen ? My wife’s defense was shaky. First she said, “I did not know that was down there”, then she said, “you know you have two of them, why do you need that one ?” Well, I did not know that I had two of them, but what difference does that make ? I have two kidneys too and would object to one being dumped in the recycling. This was obviously an object she wanted out of the house, possibly because it looks just like I did when we got married, a tragic misstep in any woman’s life (and a lifesaver in any man’s). But how could I throw away all that hair and that dashing beard ? the cool 1970s glasses and the (probably) polyester shirt ?It looks like a cover of a record album of that era. I look ready, by God, to party like a rock star, or at the very least deliver a cogent philosophical paper at a colloquium on qualitative utilitarianism.
So I took the young me to work. I still have plenty of room down here and it will be good for a few days of “Is that you ?” before I put it aside and forget it completely for the next dozen years or so. In the mean time Rayda and I will continue to throw out books and papers. I found it quite easy to throw out her college psychology texts. I do think that I should keep my old Astronomy texts, I doubt that anything has changed in that field in the last 35 years. You never know when you might want to see a fuzzy black and white picture of the crab nebulae, in a book that is, not some lousy “on line” color version taken from the Hubble telescope.