by Drew Howerton, senior executive editor

Looking around my bedroom, I think about the numerous posters plastered on the walls, and the even more numerous pushpin holes caused by these posters. 

I look at the magnet boards that my aunt bought me for my twelfth birthday. At least, I think they’re magnet boards; the magnetic surface has since been buried under momento after momento. One of them is covered in fortune cookie fortunes; sayings like “Old age is always 20 years older than you are” and “Never judge someone’s dreams” that govern my life. Another is a jumbled mess of movie ticket stubs, family photos, letters from friends past, and some of the foreign money my grandmother brought me back from China when I was eight. 

Above my bed are the shelves. Every square inch of these shelves has been covered in stuffed animals and Star Wars action figures, meticulously arranged by the order in which they appear in the films. Behind those figures, more family photos: my grandmother and aunt, my cousins, a framed picture of Food Network star Guy Fieri that I won in a club election freshman year. 

Scattered throughout the room are bookshelves, cluttered with all sorts of items: more toys, old CDs and computer parts, my vast collection of Pokemon cards, and of course books that I’ve read a thousand times, as well as ones I’ve never read. I own Books on all sorts of subjects, from my trilogy of Star Trek novels to certification manuals from the 90’s. On top of a bookshelf where my broken stereo used to sit are more books and my record player. Some of the bookshelves came with organizational boxes that fit into the shelves. These, of course, are filled with all sorts of old birthday cards, art supplies and discarded ephemera from my youth.

Let me clarify: I am not a hoarder. When I say that, I mean that I know actual hoarders and can safely say that I don’t have a problem. I constantly go through my room and throw things away or give them to friends. But looking around at all this stuff, I realize that I am closer to being twenty than I am to ten years old, which then brings on the realization that I’m going to move out and go to college soon. Which means, there is no way I can take all of this stuff with me. 

My mom often says that I’m a lot like my dad when it comes to stuff. I look at the garage, which despite constantly being cleaned out, is filled with my dad’s stuff: unridden bicycles, old cabinets and creaky lawn chairs, dusty tools, sports equipment and broken appliances. In his closet reside boxes of old cassette tapes, baseball memorabilia and other artifacts from days gone by. All of this stuff is a constant sore spot for my dad, and no matter how much my mom convinces him to get rid of it, more stuff just takes its place. 

When I look at my dad, I realize that maybe I can take my stuff with me into the next chapter of my life. But I stop and think about what that future looks like and I picture a car that physically cannot transport boxes of toys to college. I picture a dorm room that doesn’t have nearly enough wall space for all of the posters I want to put up. I imagine all of my things, my Pokemon cards and my books and the birthday cards I haven’t thrown away out of fear of hurt feelings, I imagine all of these things in a dusty and forgotten attic because no Mom, you can’t throw away that stuff, it’s sentimental. 

Just because I can take things with me, doesn’t mean I should. There are a lot of things I know I will take with me when I move out of the house: my favorite books, my Star Wars posters, my stuffed cat my grandma gave me, the letters of encouragement from friends, old photos, etcetera. But the reason that things have sentimental value isn’t the thing itself; it’s the memories I associate with those things. I keep movie tickets because I won’t ever forget standing in line to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens the first time, or the fourth time. I keep fortune cookie fortunes because I love cheesy and down-to-earth wisdom. All of my stuff is just that: stuff. 

I am now content with knowing I will have to give away things to friends and family, that I will have to hold a garage sale of my greatest hits and memories. Because at the end of the day, all I leave behind is an object, when I get to take home good memories.