My twenty-year-old brother moved out with his partner earlier this year and I have since adopted his old room for myself. However, when he left, he didn’t take everything he owned, leaving random bits and bobs to sit in his old wardrobe, taking up space and gathering dust. My clean and efficient mum recently asked me to take the time to clear out all the old junk and today I decided to do so. However, once I cleared out all the useless slips of paper, empty shoe boxes and the broken television, I stumbled upon a box or two of things that weren’t exactly junk. Old figurines of his favorite superheroes, retro handheld video games of things like Tetris, our old Pokedex toys from our Pokemon days. Even one half of the set of Undercover Girl walkie-talkies I had chosen to share with him back when we were thick as thieves. I couldn’t help but grin as I sorted through the miscellaneous fragments of my childhood, which, as a recent high school graduate and hopeful university student, I have been mourning. When you’re a child, you look forward to the future, you dream of what it would be like. And here I stand, on the precipice of change, and I’m scared. Perhaps this is why I am taking so much comfort in these long lost friends, that had been so quickly cast aside once puberty set in.
Isn’t it strange how we simply box up old things and store them away? We lock away the memories and only reconnect with them as we either move or attempt to clear out the excess. I find myself wondering what I ought to do with these plastic memoirs. What do I salvage and what do I discard? Should I keep any of it? I’ll admit I’m probably being needlessly philosophical, but I’m at a crossroads. The past thirteen years have been a steady routine of wearing the same thing as everyone else, learning the same things as everyone else and doing as I’m told. I’ve had my graduation ceremony, bid a bleary-eyed farewell to my peers and teachers. Now what? My future is my own and, with exams rapidly approaching, I can’t help but fear for my future. My brother and mother never finished high school, they struggle financially and they aren’t passionate about their work. I’ve never struggled to do well, in my trial exams I was top ten in the majority of my subjects. It isn’t that that worries me. It’s what comes after. What if I get my degree and am still as flaky and directionless? I want to teach primary school, but am terrified I won’t find work. It is human nature to fear change, the unknown, to worry about the future. Perhaps this is why we so often struggle to throw things away, to cast off what we were and accept who we are yet to become. It’s like a break-up, where you want to move on, but you have so many things that remind you of that person. You debate whether you should throw it all away, the good memories as well as the bad.
But this is not so easy. This is not a break-up. This is my childhood. There are horrible memories in this box, too, behind the grinning smile of Action Man. These pleasant and these horrific memories have shaped me, these toys represent the years that turned my brother and I into the people that we are. The close relationship we have since lost. They have done so much for me. They have served their purpose. They helped me grow up. Now I put them in a big, cardboard box, tape it up, and put it in the garage to gather more dust. Until, a few months or even a few years from now, whenever I move out into this big, wide world, I’ll stumble across my childhood in this little box and I’ll thank them all over again.