This is one of the last times I will sit in this sofa in this house. One of the last times I will watch the birds gather in the bushes for their evening meal. Removal boxes are stacked in every room, little green stickers have found their way onto select items of furniture. My parents are packing up their house, and this weekend I will move from the basement to the attic as we clear out old rubbish, decide which things to donate and which things they just can’t live without.
So far I’ve rescued two of my mother’s paintings from the discard pile, put my mark on anything to do with cake, and an old terrine that I have no idea what to do with but that I could never let go because my grandfather found it many years ago. There are a lot of other things like that in my life. Ornaments, memories, little pieces I cling to because they’ve always been around. The lille porcelain bowl with swans that was always on my great-grandmother’s dining table, the water jug that my grandmother used, the candlesticks I had in my bedroom when I was fifteen and in love for the first time, my old stories and report cards.
All these little pieces help make us who we are. They’re our history, our memories. Worthless to anyone else, but utterly precious to those of us who remember them. They remind us of loves ones who are no longer here, of Christmases from years ago, of warm summer evenings.
I can travel light, I’ve lived in lots of place without any of these things. But I feel better knowing they’re in my life. Minimalism may work for some people, but I will always hang onto the special items that remind me of the people I love. One day I hope my son will look at these things and take the vases, the bowls, the terrine because he just has to have them. Because they always stood on the table in the house in Langeland, or in the windowsill in Copenhagen.
I’d rather have to pack the extra boxes than be without them. I’m sure there’s a story or two in there somewhere.