There are few tasks as difficult as cleaning out the garage — particularly when said garage is full of boxes that haven’t been opened in years.
Such was the case a couple weeks ago when I headed down to my parents’ house in Moab to retrieve some of my old belongings. They’ll soon be moving out of the home they’ve lived in since I was seven years old, going on to a new adventure (and a smaller house) as they begin their retirement in earnest.
But, as they would rather not load box upon box of who-knows-what into a U-Haul, only to have it occupy space and gather dust in some other garage somewhere else for the next 30 years, they requested that I come get what was mine. So, I got to work, opening boxes that had been moved from my dorm room at Southern Utah University in Cedar City, to New Mexico, then to California and finally back to Utah without having been opened. Some hadn’t even been touched since they were packed away when I was still in high school.
What I found was a veritable treasure trove of childhood memories. There was my letterman’s jacket from Grand County High School, having not been worn since I graduated shortly after the turn of the millennium. (Shockingly, it doesn’t fit as well as it used to.) The Wheaties box commemorating the Denver Broncos’ first Super Bowl victory back in 1998? It was there, though thankfully now cereal-free, as I’d hate to see what happens to that stuff when it’s legally old enough to drink. There were even old VHS tapes (remember those?) of my first- and third-grade plays. Let’s just say that acting wasn’t my calling, though my schoolmates and I apparently did a rousing rendition of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” sometime in the early 1990s.
There were even old pictures — my grandfather and I sitting under a tree behind my grandparents’ condo in Moab; a much-younger version of me reeling in a yellowtail tuna in the Sea of Cortez in Mexico and my cousins and me hiking to Delicate Arch as kids were among the highlights.
And then there was the stuff that reminded me of what a pack rat I am. There was an entire box of old reporter’s notebooks from New Mexico, along with old business cards and all of my old college 3-subject notebooks, which only served to show that at one point, I actually took college semi-seriously before it became mostly about having a good time and covering sports for the school newspaper.
Of course, whenever you go through that kind of thing, there are always things that bring back bittersweet memories (or just bitter ones). While it was difficult to see some of those things again, it was also somewhat cathartic to be able to unceremoniously deposit them in a large green trash can, never to be seen again.
There are some parts of the past that are meant to be celebrated and embraced, and others that are meant to be left behind forever.
File the traffic ticket I got for briefly unbuckling my seat belt in an Arby’s drive-thru in New Mexico under the latter category.
Darren Vaughan is the sports editor for the Transcript Bulletin. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.