About This Site
The Story of the Train Stamps
Full of Atomic Nuclei
A Visit to Japan
On Being Different
The Spider Web
Once in a Lifetime
My Super Power
The New Sound
The Story of My RoomHere I'd like to tell you the story of my beloved old room at my parents' house. I only lived there for eight years, from age 10 when we moved to Boulder to age 18 when I went off to college, plus a few summers, but at the time it seemed like forever. I still remember every little thing about it.
As a description of my room, I'm really pleased with the above; it really captures the essence of it. Of course no description can make you understand my room the way I do, but hopefully it gives you some idea what it was like. To do better, I'd have to draw pictures, or go into tremendous detail.
There's one very large detail I've left out, though, which is that the room gradually became full of stuff.
Sorry I had to pause there so you could feel some of the tremendous meaning hidden in that little phrase full of stuff. Saying that my room was full of stuff is like coming back from a trip to the Grand Canyon and saying that it was big it's not just an understatement, it also totally fails to convey the true nature of the thing described. Let me tell you a few things that will make it clear.
First, I mostly preferred small objects to large ones, so instead of guitars and basketballs (e.g.), I tended to have lots of tiny little things. (Whether my being nearsighted was a cause or an effect of that, I don't know.) I liked to make things, too, usually out of paper or cardboard since those were easy to work with. I once made a twelve-sided hexaflexagon that was half an inch across.
But then, even more than I liked small objects, I liked paper, in all its forms: notebooks, notepads, loose sheets with or without lines, index cards, graph paper, and so on. We always had lots of paper around the house partly because my grandfather worked for a paper company, but mostly because my father was in business, and that's how you did business back then, on paper. Of course I also liked the different ways of writing: pencils, crayons, and pens of various colors, types, and sizes.
I liked pen and paper in themselves, but at first I must have liked them only as means to an end; what I really liked was to write and draw. I drew pictures and cartoons and space battles, wrote stories, played games (e.g., Dots and Boxes), made puzzles and mazes, and invented all kinds of languages and secret codes. Given my preference for small things, I guess it's only natural that my handwriting gradually got smaller and smaller, so that I could put more and more information on each page.
Then, as mentioned in Personality Types, there's the fact that I tended to hoard things that I used to be a huge pack rat, in other words. I'd get very attached to, and sentimental about, even the stupidest little things, and then want to keep them forever. I already had plenty of stuff when we moved to Boulder, and I accumulated more and more every year. Even in college, I'd come home at the end of the year and bring everything with me every little sentimental object, every single paper from every single class.
To complete the picture, here are two short thoughts. First, I didn't have very good organizational skills, so things tended to accumulate in random piles. Second, my parents didn't need the room for anything else, so I was under no real pressure to clean it out.
Thus, when I moved back to Boulder at the age of 33, there was my room, just as I'd left it, containing essentially everything I'd come in contact with between third grade and senior year of college. There were boxes and piles and sacks of things everywhere boxes on the floor, brown paper sacks of file folders in the closet, boxes on top of other boxes, big long flat boxes under the bed. The closet was full; much of the floor was covered. Imagine the volume of it, the boxes and piles and sacks, the desk drawers, the cardboard file cabinet I forgot to mention, all the closet shelves; and then imagine that entire volume filled with papers and various small objects, each one bound to some tiny fragment of memory. What a treasure! What a tremendous amount of information!
Now you know what I meant when I said my room was full of stuff. But, just to make it a bit more concrete, here's a tiny sample of things that were in my room.
After I moved back to Boulder, I slowly but surely dealt with everything in the room in one way or another, as described in How I Cleaned My Room. Then finally I was done, and my mom repainted it and rearranged all the furniture and made it into a guest room; and that's the end of the story of my room.
How I Cleaned My Room
@ April (2007)