Inventorying Memories

Moving is tough. The process of sorting through your belongings, pulling out things to donate, things to recycle, things to keep. Placing value, objective or subjective, on everything you own, inventorying memories, juggling emotions and utility.

I thought a lot about the value of stuff as we packed up our one-bedroom, DC apartment into a seven by ten storage unit. In our three years of marriage, we have already accumulated so many things, physical manifestations of our childhoods, families, and time together. Tears were shed, as we laughed over memories as meaningful as our wedding day or as embarrassing as my homemade holiday decorations.


 And, ironically, our first stop after leaving the District and saying goodbye to my family in Reading was an auction at my grandparents’ house in Belleville, Pennsylvania (a small Amish town nestled in the mountains of central Pennsylvania, with scenery dominated by farmland and air heavy with cow manure and freshly-baked whoopee pies). That weekend, my grandparents were selling most of their household items as they relocate to a retirement facility. Standing in their backyard with people bidding on everything from stemware to La-Z-Boys, I was again reminded of the value we place on the items that fill our homes and our lives. For me, the value didn’t equate to the bids that were coming in, although the money will certainly help with the costs of medical bills and care. The value was in the memories of Thanksgiving dinners around the dining room table, evenings spent reading the stack of Readers Digest magazines, or sneaking one more teaberry candy out of the cut crystal dish.


Yes, we are doing something that’s a little crazy. Yes, we are trading in the comforts and stability of our normal life for some adventure and spontaneity. But the value of life isn’t in our sofa, our business casual clothing, or even my beloved Kitchen-Aid mixer. The value is in the memories that coat these things: the week spent on the sofa during that epic blizzard, the incredible people we’ve had the pleasure to work alongside, and the hundreds of sprinkle-laden cookies I baked in that tiny kitchen.


So, as we say our goodbyes to friends and family, I can’t wait to create more valuable memories (without accumulating too many more things—the van is pretty tightly packed). Because in the end, that’s what it’s all about.






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