The things we hold onto

I spent the Thanksgiving holiday at my parents’ house back East. A lot of belly rubs for the dog, lots of afternoon tea, and surprisingly little sibling squabbling. One of the promises I made my parents in return for them footing the (astronomical) plane ticket home was that I would clean out my closet. For real this time. Like, I-don’t-live-there-anymore-and-if-I-haven’t-used-it-since-high-school-I-probably-don’t-need-it for real.

Two hours later, I ended up with three bags of clothes for the Goodwill, a shoebox full of Trolls (remember those?), three prom dresses, and a year’s worth of AP Calculus notes.

I also found “the box.” You know the kind, stuffed full of kindergarten paintings and Little League trophies and report cards and baby booties. This one also had a handmade Big Bird costume from 1988, a story I wrote in the first grade about Christopher Columbus, the smallest baseball glove you’ve ever seen, and, weirdly enough, all four of my wisdom teeth, each in little tiny tooth boxes shaped like pirate chests.

In the end, my parents and I compromised on the closet: The box stayed, the prom dresses went. But it made me think about the things we keep, the things we save even though we know we’ll never use them again. The box that gets moved from one house to the next, from one closet to another, just because we can’t part with them — and also because sometimes, your twentysomething child will come home and find it and smile.

And try on three prom dresses.

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