Sunday, September 12, 2010

Memory Box

My parents got me a miniature fridge when I was going to school at Augustana in Camrose. In the freshmen dorms, this was a big deal, as there were no fridges on the floor, and only one in the basement lounge. It was a dry campus (a fact I am still grateful for, despite being a fan of beer), but having your own cold sodas or frozen tray of garlic ribs you could heat up in a toaster oven was a baby step on the road to independence.

After university, it was still handy to have a spare fridge that could hold a dozen beer or a a thawing roast of what-have-you, but when Audrey and I moved to Toronto in 1995, there was just no space in our triplex apartment to stow it, so it languished in the closet of the second bedroom, storing things like the toilet paper we bought in bulk at Price Club on the Queensway.

When moved back to Edmonton in 1999, it returned to duty in the basement of the townhome we rented, mostly holding recreational beverages. Since the basement was the only place large enough to setup the gaming table, it was extremely convenient to have beer and sodas on hand. Of course, the only washroom was on the top floor so it was a long ways from perfect, but still pretty good.

Once we moved in to our current house in 2006, the fridge again accompanied me to the basement, and for the same reasons as before. However, we inherited a full size fridge shortly thereafter, and once again the little one was consigned to storage under the stairs.

Last week I begrudgingly handed it off to my sister, who moved into her own house this summer, and has a distinct place for lower level refrigeration. It's a no brainer, right? The fridge has languished under the stairs, unused, for for four years, so having it go to a good home that it may fulfill its destiny AND provide me with an appropriately chilled beverage when I visit only makes sense.

And yet, I was reluctant to let it go.

Part of me wanted to plug it in out in the garage, but that dog don't hunt; I don't spend a lot of time in the garage anyway, and half of the year, no additional chilling is required in there. No, my sanctum sanctorum is the basement, thanks very much.

In the end, it's an uncomfortable truth: I just don't like to let things go. I don't think I'm selfish, but I am constantly hanging on to things longer than necessary, just in case they turn out to be useful at some point in the future. And even though I may not be greedy, I like things, all sorts of things. If I had an infinite amount of space, I would probably never get rid of anything, so I could pull that 15 year old magazine I saved for a single article at will (provided I could find it), or putty up the missing piece to that broken knick-knack that is perfect except for that one small flaw.

It is undoubtedly a blessing that I do not have a portable hole, of Harry Potter's Room of Requirement, or a subspace interphaser, or something else that would give me infinite or near infinite space. I am slowly getting better at separating needs from wants, and real wants from "really?" wants. Middle age has been a part of that; while it may sound morbid, looking at a shelf full of books and asking myself, "How many times am I going to want to read that one again before I shuffle off this mortal coil?" has been chilling and liberating in pretty much equal measure.

I recently divested myself of a bunch of games, since they were going unplayed, and because I not only have more games than I can easily play right now, but I am inevitably going to acquire more. There is talk at work of having everyone bring in their, "I'm probably not going to watch this again" DVDs, selling them for $2 apiece and donating the money to charity. Of course, at those prices, I would probably come home with more than I gave away, but hey, at least they'd be new, right?

Even knowing this, it was kind of hard letting go of that silly fridge. Part of it is saying goodbye to a part of my younger self, remembering the different places my first appliance ended up in my various dorm rooms, but the other part is the assortment of stickers it picked up over the years, especially the aviation themed ones I picked up at air shows and suchlike. One of the coolest (if somewhat ominous) is the one dad picked up from a Boeing rep while he was still in air traffic control showing the newly developed cruise missile (!).

In the end, I satisfied myself with snapping pictures of the decals, packing the fridge up on a truck and making a clean break of it. I've got a handful of stickers and a couple of magnets on the downstairs fridge already, with the hope that it will one day surpass its predecessor; after all, there is a lot more space to fill on this one.

There's probably a metaphor in there somewhere, but it's late, so I will leave that to the reader.

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