The Price of Nostalgia

Clothing

For the last couple weeks, I’ve been making a desultory effort to literally lighten my load – the moving company charges by weight for storage, and the less to pack, the better. Like most people, I suspect, I’ve for years been hanging on to too much I’ll never again listen to, fit into or use. Some of it, such as my grandmother’s costume jewelry and beaded party sweater, I simply can’t bear to let go.

But I’ve made great headway into cleaning out my closet. Yesterday, I donated to Dress for Success (a non-profit that helps women entering or re-entering the workforce with appropriate clothing and coaching, among other things) a backseat full of business clothes that I hope will help make a newly employed (or soon to be employed) woman feel at least a little bit empowered.

I, on the other hand, feel empowered by saying goodbye to those eight suits, 34 pairs of dress pants and 15 or so skirts, silk blouses, twin sets and other business non-casual items I hope I’ll never have to wear again (I did keep the only suit that still fits, just in case).

But here’s the depressing (and rather shocking) thing: I added up the cost. I’m claiming $4,000 on the donation form (that I’ll no doubt lose before tax time next year). The actual amount I paid for those items over the years is probably closer to $6,000.

Shelves1Today, I began to tackle “the room where things go to die” (chock-full of stuff I should get rid of, 50 percent of which I likely won’t).

On our local online bulletin board this morning, I posted a couple of free-for-the-taking items, including a barely used NordicTrack ($500), the lovely L-bracket “joinery” pine shelves I built in 1988 or so (the first piece of functional furniture I ever made, actually…still standing – priceless!), a microwave and a few other ridiculous things that for some reason I carried to the third floor instead of giving them away initially (a Mickey Mouse waffle iron, for example – I don’t even like Mickey Mouse. I’m more of a Looney Tunes girl.) They’re all already claimed, and some are already out of the house.

Then, I boxed up my cassettes, both the commercial ones and the little-heard (and not worth hearing) ones of me playing the piano and singing in a school musical. Not to mention the 20 or so tapes I recorded while listening to Kasey Kasem’s Top 40 Countdown (or is it Kountdown?) on Sunday mornings. I sure liked Chicago. Total cost (for the commercial ones): around $3,000. I’m sending those off to GreenDisk tomorrow for recycling.

CDTowerThen there’s the CDs. Holy Cats did I drop a lot of cash on CDs (most of which are now on my computer and/or an external hard drive).

That CD case at left is only about half of them; I have seven 100-slot CD wallets full, too. On the commercial ones alone, I spent enough to cover the cost of the new roof.

Do stores still buy/sell used CDs? I hear vinyl is the hot new thing (unfortunately, those I unloaded prior to my last move). I’ve made a list of the ones in decent shape; perhaps I’ll shop it around.

I’m not complaining, mind you – merely stating fact. I enjoyed wearing those clothes (for a while); it was (and still is) rewarding to finally have a professional job after a decade as a sales clerk, barista and bartender. And I had a great many great evenings and road trips listening to that music (yes, even the Chicago) – I wouldn’t trade any of that.

I have the memories; I no longer need the physical manifestations thereof. Still, it’s difficult to let them go.

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About fitz

Editor & content director for Popular Woodworking, ABD PhD focused on early modern drama, freelance content and copy editor/writer, ailurophile
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19 Responses to The Price of Nostalgia

  1. Dave Reedy says:

    Inspirational! Twenty years ago we moved from a 1200 sq.ft. house to a 3000+ one. The stuff we had in the small house filled the bigger one. There are still boxes in the basement that haven’t been opened. It’s amazing how much stuff we Americans have. We even need to rent storage to hold all our stuff. We need to move again to downsize. I’ll probably call Rumpke for a yard box. Wish I could remember the George Carlin thing about “stuff”.

  2. richmondp says:

    I feel for you, I truly do. I liken such stuff as you describe to a rotten tooth. You’re attached to it. You and your rotten tooth have been together all of your life and have, no doubt, shared many a memorable moment. But oh, what a relief when that tooth is gone.

  3. pfollansbee says:

    Nice read, Megan. Somewhere in the new book about Bill Coperthwaite, A Man Apart, there’s a story about an overnight visitor Bill had one time. He showed the visitor the guest quarters, and gave them a bell, saying “If there’s something you need in the night, ring the bell & I’ll come tell you how to do without it.”

    • fitz says:

      That’s a delightful quotation, as well as a reminder to buy that book…after I settle into a new and permanent home. (And thank you!)

  4. terrygday says:

    Did you get a deduction for the leather mini-skirt Christopher Schwarz used for the jaw lining on his Moxon Vice? Even if you didn’t, at least you don’t have to move it either.

  5. Mark says:

    Shake It, just down on Hamilton Ave. next door to Blue Jay, still buys used CDs. So does Everybody’s (Pleasant Ridge) and Half Price Books. Anything you can’t sell, donate to the library and write it off.

    • fitz says:

      I thought Shake It was full-on vinyl these days. Good to know — thanks! (I do think Asia is going to be a hard sell.)

  6. heidtwd says:

    Try unloading your CD’s at DClutter online.

  7. heidtwd says:

    OOPS! It’s declutter.com

  8. John Wolf says:

    I’m having the same difficulty clearing out my Dad’s study. Could you use any of the 70lbs of Shakespeare’s (and a few other people’s, mainly Greek) plays in paperback? I’ve got the complete works, so am all set.

    • fitz says:

      Oooo. Hard to pass up, but I’m afraid I have at least 500 pounds of Shakespeare and related materials to box up myself (note: not getting rid of those).

  9. Dave Louw says:

    I am not a tax lawyer but if you paid $6000 for all that stuff then it’s highly unlikely you should be deducting $4000 for it. Unless of course you bought it at a consignment/thrift shop. Take a quick look at http://www.irs.gov/publications/p561/ar02.html#d0e579.

  10. afromb says:

    Hi, could go with everything but the music,enjoying to watch the covers and change the lp or cd, things a usb stick can’t give.
    But left me thinking while writing this whether there’s a hoarder in me or not….
    Thanks for your thoughts,
    Alexander

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