From treasured to trashed | AspenTimes.com

From treasured to trashed

Meredith C. Carroll

Well, it’s official: I’ll never be President of the United States.Not because I inhaled (because, of course, I didn’t) or because I had an illicit affair with a White House page (while I did have an encounter with a page, it was with an NBC page, we were both unmarried and I wouldn’t exactly call making out at the bar across the street from 30 Rockefeller Plaza an incredibly scandalous encounter), but because the material that would have filled up a good deal of my future presidential library now has a new permanent home in a landfill somewhere in New Jersey or Staten Island.My parents are preparing to sell the house they bought a few months before I was born, and for the past year, they’ve been (not so gently) nudging me to pack whatever I want and take it to Aspen, lest it go the way of a Dumpster on their moving day. Until last month, I’d mostly managed to avoid dealing with the boxes full of my childhood artifacts. However, since their house could go on the market within the next few months, my moment of reckoning finally arrived when I visited them on Thanksgiving.Had I not been forced to decide which relics of my youth to keep based on what would actually fit in my tiny storage unit in Aspen, someday there might have been a special exhibit in my presidential library dedicated solely to the journal I wrote in the eighth grade (and so cleverly stained with a tea bag and then charred lightly along the edges with a match to give the paper appearance of age) from the perspective of a Civil War solider. So long to my fifth-grade essay on Napoleon Bonaparte and my ninth-grade masterpiece on the difference between fears and phobias. No one will ever again read the term paper I wrote in the 12th grade on playwright Mary Griffith Pix titled, “Boy, was she fat!” Goodbye forever to my fifth-grade report on Pluto, which is now probably worth big bucks given its recent demotion from planet to dwarf planet status.The Hello Kitty pencils, notebooks and bubble gum scented erasers from 1979, which were unused, (I was always saving them for a special occasion, which, apparently, never came to pass) were also probably worth something today since there’s a renewed interest in the brand (although my 4-year-old niece, who had a Hello Kitty-themed birthday party in September, laughed and said, “Eww,” when I offered them to her). Then there was my tooth fairy pillow, the collection of little rubber Smurfs and glazed pottery Dopey figurines along with most of the other dolls and gadgets that decorated my childhood room that would be worth absolutely nothing to anyone but me – all gone.Oh sure, I pretended not to care when my father told me to go ahead and toss the paper mache female uniformed police officer I made him in the first grade (we’re still not exactly sure why) as well as the piece of wood fashioned to look like a slice of toast I crafted in summer camp and gifted to him as a symbol of all the supermarket trips he’s made on behalf of our family. I put on a brave face when my mom said yes, the world could live without the self-portrait I made with pastels in the seventh grade as well as the giant mother’s day card I drew for her when I was 11.But I cared all right. I cried, nay, wept on the inside. After all, even though I’d long since forgotten most of it even existed, my life’s work (up until the age of 21) is now officially and irretrievably gone.I barely looked through all of my college books and notebooks before dumping them. It was too heartbreaking thinking of all the notes I took, the papers over which I toiled, making a new home in the garbage. But given the weight of those boxes containing everything from my college years, I decided paying the shipping bill from New York to Aspen would be an even more painful experience. (Noticeably absent from any of the boxes was anything math-related, anything with less than rave reviews and any paper or exam graded below an A.)Seven heavy-duty lawn and leaf bags full of my life were heaved out to the curb the Sunday after Thanksgiving. The next day, when my father remarked a garbage truck had taken them all away, I panicked. I should have saved everything. Forget the shipping expense – my future ability to look at my past disappeared overnight. The letters from friends whose faces I can no longer picture and the pictures of friends whose faces I can no longer identify were gone forever.While I didn’t trash everything – I saved my first pair of baby shoes, the blanket I slept with until I was 10 (and promptly replaced with a pillow, which I still sleep with today), my Billy the Snoopy stuffed animal (when you have over a dozen of them, they need their own names), all the letters and cards my parents and sister have sent me over the years, my record albums (sadly, I couldn’t find my first one ever, “Olivia Newton John’s Greatest Hits, Vol. II”), my high school yearbooks, the little trophy I got in third grade for being the first in my class to memorize the multiplication tables and the Playbills from all the Broadway shows I’ve ever seen – the saved items, clearly, do not a presidential library make.Nope – there will be no unauthorized book released on the day of my Presidential Inauguration based on the collages made for me by my high school girlfriends (never mind that the meanings of most of those collages have long since escaped me), there will be no exhibits of my art work or of my dried, dusty, brittle prom corsages and no former boyfriends will be able to give an interview to Larry King based on the letters, love notes and gifts they sent me, because all evidence has been destroyed.Which is a shame, since one little girl’s junky treasures just might have filled a nation’s future presidential library.E-mail questions or comments to meredithccarroll@hotmail.com.The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.