Just Stuff

I've never considered myself much of a pack rat. Furniture, clothes, dishes, books — I've never had any trouble selling, throwing out or giving away things I don't want or no longer need. They're just material processions. Most of it isn’t important to m

I’ve never considered myself much of a pack rat. Furniture, clothes, dishes, books — I’ve never had any trouble selling, throwing out or giving away things I don’t want or no longer need.

They’re just material processions. Most of it isn’t important to me.

There are some exceptions, however. If you would walk through my living space, you’d probably notice a few things that wouldn’t appear to have much material value at all. Some would call it just stuff that needs to be tossed out, but it’s stuff I can’t bring myself to part with.

On my dresser, I have an Admiral “All Transistor” portable radio. My mother and father got it for me for Christmas when I was in grade school in the early 1960s.

It’s dark red in color, AM only (I don’t think FM was around back then) and still works fine. Why would I throw it out?

My writing desk faces a window in my study, and on the windowsill is a paper mache pig. It’s about a third the size of an actual full-grown pig, brown with some dashes of orange and white thrown in. His or hers eyes are black.

My twin brother made the pig in high school art class back in 1969. My mother kept it for years. After she died, I thought it important to keep the pig in the family. I look at it every morning.

The Christmas before he died, in 1993, my twin brother got me a pen — a green and gold Lodis executive pen with a lifetime guarantee. It’s a great-looking writing instrument. After I opened it, my brother said to me, “I think everyone should have a nice pen.”

During an apartment move, I lost it. For years, I kept looking for it and kept kicking myself for not being more careful. Then suddenly in my move to Westwood I found the pen in a storage box, still in its classy-looking case. It’s on my writing table now, never to be lost again.

In the summer of 2002, a friend and I went to see Patty Griffin at the Southgate House in Newport. Her 1,000 Kisses CD had come out a couple months before, and my friend and I are fans of her music.

It was probably one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. After the show, they were selling posters, celebrating the release of the CD and tour. I bought one.

That poster looks more than a little beat-up, but it’s still hanging in my apartment. After such a great concert, why would I want to throw it away?

In one of my bookcases, I have a copy of Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield. I can’t find a publishing date on the book, but my cousins, the Harpers, purchased it in 1906 for 25 cents — according to a handwritten note inside the book. They gave it to me at some point in the early 1970s.

It’s sort of a fancy-looking book and might be worth some money, but I’ve never checked that out. I have a lot of fond memories of visiting my cousins’ farm in Warsaw, Ky., while growing up, so I think I’ll keep that book in my bookcase.

In 1980, Rubik’s Cube was a hot game. It’s a cube with nine stickers among six solid colors and the idea is to line up all of the same colors on the same side of the cube.

I managed to do it a few times, but I haven’t attempted it again in years. If I ever decide to, it’s to the right of my television set, which is something I actually should throw out.

There’s an 8-by-10-inch picture of an overhead view of my grandparents farm on one of the walls in my apartment. It was shot outside of Vevay, Ind., in 1965 from an airplane or helicopter. I know the date because it’s written on the side of the photograph.

I look at that photo a lot. It reminds me of summers on their farm and how much I loved my grandparents and how much they loved me. It brings back a part of my past that’s happy, so that picture is going to stay on the wall.

On my nightstand, I have a small trophy that my young daughter and son gave me for Father’s Day many years ago. It says, “Father of the year.”

Daughter and son are all grown up now and I doubt if I was ever an award-winning dad, but I’ve held on to that trophy to remind myself that at least 90 percent of the time I was truly trying to do my best.

There are other processions I’ve kept over the years: a fly swatter wall clock that keeps perfect time, a teddy bear given to me by a friend who’s now an ex-friend, an old CityBeat ball cap and various other items that are probably just stuff to others but not to me.

While I’m proud of the fact I haven’t lived a very materialistic life, sometimes I wonder what will become of these items I’ve held onto over the years.

I mean, I’m not going to live forever. Someday I’ll be dead, and others won’t feel sentimental about these things like I do.

It’s a silly concern, really. When you’re dead, you’re dead.

I’ll take comfort in the fact that I won’t know if my stuff gets tossed out. I’m glad I won’t know if these cherish processions of mine will become someone else’s junk.

CONTACT LARRY GROSS: [email protected]

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