The Saratoga Sun -

The Zac Attack: Junk or treasure? Seeing another side


My mother and I have always disagreed on what is considered junk, and that has always been infuriating to me.

My definition of junk: If you do not know where it goes, or if it doesn’t have a place within your home, just throw it away. My mother’s definition of junk (as far as I can tell): If it can be fixed, keep it. If it has the slightest amount of sentimental value, keep it. Don’t worry about where it goes. Just throw it into the pile. As a result, the house I grew up in was always cluttered.

I didn’t know what drove me more crazy, the fact my mom refused to throw anything away, or the fact that I had to live in a house with so much junk.

Our basement, for example, had about three old, unusable chairs; two unusable couches; two drum sets; four or five classroom-ready sewing machines; and a lot of other random stuff topping it all off. I’m speaking in approximates, because there is no way for me to really know how much furniture was down there, because of all the other stuff.

My mom says she has this dream to one day restore the furniture and sell it, which would be fine if she managed to get around to it.

My whole point is, I hated living in that house with so much junk. If it were up to me, I would have thrown every item in that basement away, an offer I have presented to my mom several times, but never an offer she was willing to accept. However, now that I am much older, I am beginning to understand my mom’s definition of “junk”.

My mom and dad have retired, and have decided to start renting the house my siblings and I grew up in. When my mom first told me she was going to start renting the house, I have to admit, I felt sadness. That house contains a lot of good memories, and leasing it to someone else almost feels as if I am forced to forfeit those memories. I will no longer be able to walk in and experience nostalgia sitting in the living room on the holidays talking with my family. Those days are gone.

For the past several weekends, I have been going to that house in Sinclair and helping my parents pack up all that stuff in the basement. The process started the same “junk” argument my mother and I have been locked in since I was able to speak, but now I can respect her side of the argument, sort of.

One day when I came to help, my mom had set aside a few boxes of my old stuff I completely forgot I had. One box had all of my old action figures in it. When I looked at the contents, I cross-checked it with my definition of junk. I didn’t really have a place for it. I didn’t really need my old action figures for anything. According to my logic, that box was junk, and I throw junk away. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t throw my old action figures away. Perhaps I could sell them. No. As soon as I saw those action figures, I knew there was no way I could part with them.

That was the moment I began to think my mom had a point, in some weird way, of keeping so many couches and desks untouched in the basement. Maybe those desks are to my mom what my old action figures are to me — a glimpse to the past.

That box of action figures, along with some old baseball cards and board games, are now in my small storage area. I don’t plan on using them anytime soon, but is some strange way, just knowing they are in my possession brings me comfort, and maybe that makes those things worth hanging on to.


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