When I was a kid, I used to love cleaning my closet. I almost always found some relic or artifact that made the pawing and sweeping and eventual sorting worthwhile. There were things in there that I had given up hope finding, but lo and behold, there they were in a pile of dust bunnies and debris. This could explain the continued interest in Jimmy Hoffa's remains, or the whereabouts of Amelia Earhart's plane.
My mother used to tell me that nothing stays lost long. What she didn't take into consideration was the sheer amount of stuff that we are all capable of piling on top of the stuff we already have. Eventually I expected to find the floor or the back of the closet, and not a portal to another dimension. That would have made it more acceptable to lose things, I suppose. If I could blame a Lion or a Witch for the marbles that went missing out of the Avalanche game, that would have been more acceptable. If I came away from one of those cleaning sessions with a W.C. Frito eraser that had disappeared years ago, it would all be incredibly worth it.
I had one of those experiences the other day as I spent the afternoon with my family, sorting through the bits and pieces of our lives that had come to rest in our basement. As I have related previously, all manner of things have found homes in those dark recesses. But even the most effective filing system needs some maintenance now and again. This one came about because my son's sixteenth birthday turned our lower floor into a teenaged man-cave. That meant that boxes and bags of previously sorted and considered material was exiled to the gulag of the garage. A month later, when it was time to reclaim the garage, we came in contact once again with the trash and treasure that had been so hastily moved to prepare for the celebration.
A great portion of this mass of misfit toys, books, clothes and unnameable objects passed through each of our three filters, determining its relative value: Keep it or Pitch it? As we began to fill the Pitch it pile, I came a cross a shoebox with my name on it. This deserved a second look. Inside I found a number of newspaper clippings, a fistful of cards from my thirtieth birthday, and another smaller box. Inside that box, I found the Keepers: Ticket stubs from concerts I attended in my youth. From the 1980's youth. I held on to these and though I was careful not to consign the cards and scraps of paper to the recycling heap, I made a point to bring the ticket stubs upstairs and into the light. These were my touchstones, and while I probably would have survived just fine without these aged bits of my history, I felt that pleasant comfort of connection with the past. Nothing stays lost for long, indeed.