This past weekend was somewhat of a sad one for me.
Earlier this month, my parents sold the house that they have lived in for the past 39 years. The house was a good size for a family of four, but now that my parents live alone, all of that space wasn’t necessary. As they head into retirement, they really didn’t want to deal with the upkeep and maintenance that it required.
And so, (after a long time on the market) they sold the house and found a smaller home further South.
Even though I haven’t lived there in over a decade, they pretty much kept my bedroom the way I had left it, and had held on to most of my old things. (Of course I’ve made such a fuss when they’ve thrown things out in the past, that they probably figured it was easier just to keep it all.)
And while they have generously offered to continue to store much of the stuff that I have been keeping with them, I had to go through everything and sort out what I wanted to keep and what could be thrown out or donated.
As my parents and Mrs. Cutter could tell you, I’m a bit of a hoarder. I don’t like getting rid of anything if I think it might have potential use or if it has any nostalgic value. So it didn’t figure to be easy for me to get rid of things.
I found that the trick was to ask myself the question: What the hell am I going to do with it? If I didn’t have a good answer to the question, then I wouldn’t keep it.
Some of the stuff was relatively easy to get rid of. My old copies of Mad Magazine or my sports “participant” trophies? Those could go. But some of the stuff was much harder to decide what to do with.
As I parsed through my old possessions, I realized that much of my childhood was spent purchasing comic books and baseball cards. I might be a millionaire today had I simply invested the money I spent buying these things.
The end result was a few boxes full of common baseball cards and comic books that nobody in their right mind would ever want to read again.
If there are any Leon “Bip” Roberts fans out there, you may be horrified to learn that I have gotten rid of his 1991 Fleer card along with many others. And perhaps there are some 1980s toy enthusiasts who will cringe when I reveal that I threw out issue #1 of the Sectaurs comic book. But really, they were just taking up space.
Going through all of those baseball cards made me think of my one friend from summer camp. Back in the early 1990s baseball cards were a big deal, so my friends and I would bring our cards in and make trades.
My friend was a huge Ryne Sandberg fan and would pretty much trade any card he had in order to get a “Ryno.” It didn’t matter if he already had the card or not, he wanted as many of them as possible.
Back then, we all thought he was nuts. Didn’t he know that the Ken Griffey or Frank Thomas cards he was trading away were much more valuable than the Sandbergs he was getting back?
Well, maybe he knew something that the rest of us didn’t. Because looking at my baseball card collection, the only cards that really mean anything to me now are my Mike Schmidt cards. The rest are just cards of stars from the late 80s or early 90s which might have some value, but probably aren’t even worth what I paid for them back then.
Anyway, after removing the cards that I thought might conceivably have value, I told my father that he could donate two large boxes worth of common cards to the Goodwill. Maybe some completist collector will take them; maybe they’ll be recycled; (can they recycle baseball cards?) or maybe they’ll just end up in a landfill.
And while I kept many of my old comics, I did relegate quite a few of them to the recycling bin.
Perhaps saddest of all, I gave away most of my old Transformers and G.I.Joe toys. (That sound you hear is probably Squinty cringing)
I was considering holding on to them. Then I realized that aside from being pulled out for an occasional nostalgia trip, they’ve been basically sitting in a box for about 20 years.
It crossed my mind that maybe my children might want to play with them one day. But would they even care about old toys from the 80s? And wouldn’t they rather have their own, newer toys?
Maybe I could have sold them, but because they were played with regularly, they weren’t in very good condition. So I didn’t think they’d fetch much money on EBay. Certainly not enough to make it worth the effort.
So I had my father donate them. Maybe some lucky collector who doesn’t care about toys being in mint condition will come across them. Or maybe some parent will see them and decide that their kids would love to play with them. Or maybe they’ll just end up in a landfill alongside the baseball cards.
I’ll admit it: I kept a few of my old favorites, including Optimus Prime. I mean, how could I give away Optimus Prime? He’s one of the two greatest icons of leadership from the 80s (along with Ronald Reagan of course) and perhaps my most desired present ever. No, Optimus will be staying with me.
Once I got all my things sorted out, I had to say goodbye to my old home.
It’s a bit difficult to believe that when I go to visit my parents, I won’t be staying in my old room or sleeping in my old bed. (Although I usually didn’t even do that anymore, as I graciously allowed Mrs. Cutter to use the bed while I took the air mattress on the floor.)
I will no longer be spending time in the basement where I used to pass countless hours playing with my toys or watching sports. I won’t be hanging out with my friends playing video games, pool, and (in later years) secretly drinking alcohol.
And looking out into the backyard, it was sad knowing that my family would never have another birthday party or 4th of July picnic there. There will be no more taking batting practice from my father or throwing a tennis ball to my dog.
But I’ll always have the memories.
Growing up, I used to make up stories in which my house could be transformed into a secret computer laboratory. I would use the lab to help defend the Earth against the evil armies of the Decepticons or the Shadow Empire. It’s a bit sad knowing that the old computer lab has been shut down for good. I guess the world will have to fend for itself now.
Then again, maybe it won’t. The house was bought by a young couple pregnant with their first child. Maybe one day that child will find the hidden button that transforms the house into the computer laboratory, and the planet will once again be kept safe from the forces of evil.
At the very least, I hope the child has as happy a childhood as I did there.
As sad as it was to say goodbye to my old home, having the Cutlet around made it considerably easier. After all, if all goes to plan, soon we’ll be moving into a new house of our own. And then the Cutlet will have a bedroom and backyard where she can make fond memories of her own.