The right 'stuff' - Shawn Loughlin editorial
The Feb. 25, 2010 issue of The Citizen was the first time my face appeared in the box just above these words. It was titled “Moving on Out” and it was a column about me and my family rummaging through our house of 20 years before we cleaned it out and sold it to someone else.
Most of what I brought back to Huron County with me was, in retrospect, junk. About a year ago, I went through the large tubs and I think I easily condensed four of five of them into one, with most of their contents destined for the landfill. The circumstances surrounding that move were complicated. I had already moved out to a small apartment in Goderich, and had brought much of what I felt was necessary for my day-to-day life with me when I left. Furthermore, we only had a few hours in the house. We were on the clock and it was just me and my mother.
This mission was about finding important items that may not pass my friend Brett Walther’s Post-it test. During one of his many appearances on The Marilyn Denis Show, he proposed a method of tidying up your kitchen counter by way of a Post-it note timer. Basically, you put a Post-it note with the day’s date on every on-counter appliance in your kitchen and then take them off when you use that appliance. If, after a month you still see Post-it notes on your counter, those appliances should be removed from the counter.
That was what I was after in “Moving on out”. In the column, I wrote about childhood pillowcases, bedside clocks, porcelain figurines and stacks and stacks of magazines.
I was able to gather up some stuff, but other things, like high school yearbooks, for example, were left behind, destined for Pickering-area landfills. (Sorry to any classmate who took their time to write something thoughtful or special for me and to my high-school era girlfriend who would fill an entire page - we saved a page for each other every year. Cute, right?)
It was funny, then, to chat over the weekend with world-renowned artist Janet Cardiff. The Brussels native was home to see her family and, while she was here, she took the time to do exactly what I described above. However, because she was a young budding artist in high school and university, Cardiff was pawing through creations that will find homes with people lucky to have a piece of an artist’s early work. For me, however, it was old public school journals with stories about what I did on recess that day. If there are any happy homes waiting to display those, be sure to reach out and let me know.
Not everything was a “keeper”, of course, as Cardiff told me - a bonfire would be on the schedule sometime in the future when she was back to Brussels again. But, while she’s calling up former classmates and handing over well-crafted, one-of-a-kind portraits that will be cherished for a lifetime, I was busy reclaiming my 1992 Toronto Blue Jays World Series bullpen jacket. Although, to be honest, that jacket still looks sharp to this day, if a bit tight.
So, I guess my point is that we all have our attics, our basements, our closets and our crawlspaces. We all have our “stuff”, so graciously housed by our parents for decades while we go off and make our own lives, free of that “stuff”, but it can always be nice to come back to it.
While some of our “stuff” may be more collectable than the “stuff” of others, it’s all important. And it’s neat to see that everyone, of all ages, is still coming home to sift through it in search of a memory or two.