I periodically have flashes of ideas from an earlier moment, from something that is either in the archive or that I imagine must be there. Sometimes I will follow up on those flashes and actually hunt down the document or artifact — and along the way I am reminded of many other flashes of ideas that I forgot were in the archive.
I keep almost everything. I don’t know when it started exactly, but it’s a lot of stuff by now — a lot of which moved to digital at some point along the way. Woven into the keep-everything approach is the be-in-the-moment approach, so I know that some documents and artifacts are only memory fragments. They feel tangible and keep me hunting for them, but I’m sure some just don’t exist but in my mind.
My brother had so much stuff in his attic at one point that he had to take a sledgehammer to extend his attic. There are too many objects from our childhood up there to list, but of all the things to liquidate, we one day decided together that our antique lead toy collection could use a new home. The animal photo shows just a small amount of what we used to play with and set up as little pretend scenes. It was strange to take something from the archive and sell it, and I think we together unconsciously chose some of the smallest items possible — almost like we might just not notice that we got rid of them, and they could remain both in our minds and his attic drawers even after the auctions.
Looking back through the photos I took for the eBay sales, I am actually feeling regret that we sold the oven with the bacon and eggs in the pans. Knowing the bacon was in my brother’s attic was similar to knowing it was in my childhood garage before that. Our old stuff that was old when we got it brought some mystical knowledge of the past to our play. And physically archiving the toys gave us a chance to cull them from the depths of nothingness and encounter them again, see them with fresh eyes, and have those old flashes of ideas zip about.
I did keep a park bench with a man and woman molded into sitting positions as something to remind me about those young days. But maybe I kept it because I knew I would be too sad otherwise. The archive grows and grows and sometimes, rarely, does it shrink. I try to plan but mostly imagine that I will sort through the archive one day and make it useable, but I am not sure for what purpose or to what end.
Whatever this will all become, these writings, those toys, these photographs, those souvenirs, these collectibles, those ideas, the possible possibles are endlessly interesting to me — full of ideas and emotions and memories and objects. I still plan to make something of it all, a living museum of sorts. I’m sure I would enjoy visiting.