Today I brought some things in from our garage to sort out - a couple of boxes of items from my mother's loft which had to be cleared this summer as she was having some insulation put up there. The boxes were tricky from a letting go point of view as they have a lot of emotional value attached to them. The first contained a large slice of my estranged sister's life: exercise books, notes and letters, her straw boater hat from college, a baby hat knitted for her by mum and a 1970s dress. The difficulty with these is how to give them to her under current circumstances as she distanced herself from the family some years ago. I decided to package the items up neatly as I would do if I was selling them on Ebay. I tied the exercise books up with string and found bags and wallets to protect the bundles. Once they were assembled in one neat package I felt I had made progress and that it would be possible to take them to her house and perhaps leave them on the doorstep.
The second box was the remains of my old toy box from when I was a young child. This had survived like a time capsule having apparently been lifted from behind the sofa one day 40 years ago and dumped out of sight and out of mind in the loft. It contained fragments of other toys - some doll clothes I had made, some Monopoly cards, a dice cup, a French knitting dolly, a box of Fuzzy Felt, a vintage games board, colouring pencils, a treasure map I drew, 3 books a toy watch, a ball, a toy chocolate dispenser, part of my push chair harness and a baby cardigan. Also some sweet wrappers and a lot of dust. I lay these things out on the end of our bed - for some reason I often sort on the end of the bed, it seems a good place - and I began to tinker about with them and experience the memories. Although it felt amazing to be transported back by the objects and even the box itself, a farm eggs box, I had no intention of allowing the objects to stick to me and weigh me down. I gathered the colouring pencils and found a small box for them (there weren't many) as I felt they would be a lovely consumable treasure and it seemed a poetic end for them to be used by me 40 years on. I looked at the fuzzy felt which I had spent so many happy hours making story pictures with but the felt had disintegrated so I recycled the packaging and threw the rest away. It was fascinating to see the harness from the pram as I had such vivid memories of touching it when I was small but that went in the bin too. I added the books to our collection of children's books, put the toy watch with the pencils and discarded as much of the rest as I could. The only problem item was the baby cardigan which I've put in a pile of other difficult to let go of things for another day.