House Cleaning

The last of my belongings is in Glasgow. Outside of a stray CD here and there, some books I didn’t care to pick up and a couple of photos, my lifetime of acquiring trinkets is currently staring me in the face. Sure, there are many instruments of mine dotted around the city (the only thing I own that people want to borrow, it seems), and I believe Paddy still has my old four-track tape machine, but it’s all here now. It doesn’t seem that much.

My father and I don’t get along. We haven’t spoken in over a year, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change. However, he was, by far, the most dominating force in my life. Now believe me, I could write for days on all the ways he influenced me, positively and negatively, but one aspect of his personality seems to have affected the mound of things I see before me: his rejection of sentimentality. He had a tough life, far more so than myself, and passed the lessons he’d learned down to his children. As a result, a lot of my things were thrown out every couple of years, usually with the explanation “it was done, I didn’t think you’d want it any more.” When we moved from Irvine after twelve years, most of my childhood possessions were discarded in moving. I’m not entirely blameless – I threw away a lot of stuff myself, but the shadow of my parents loomed over me every time I did. Why bother keeping this, I’d ask myself. It’s only rubbish, rubbish I’ve attached a false meaning to.

I still hold to this, in some ways. I’ve just finished clearing out my box of personal bric-a-brac. Pointless shit I’d kept in the hopes that I’d find it years later and experience some kind of emotional reflection. Turns out I’d see the ticket stub from Craig’s first Glasgow gig with Verlan and think oh, I remember that gig. Why did I keep the ticket?

That being said, it’s still a little sad to think that the past 24 years can be kept in a little foot-long box. There are two jotters from primary school, a lump of sea coal I found on a beach when I was eleven, my homework diary from secondary school and a notepad full of song lyrics I wrote before I could play an instrument. Want to know what ten year olds write songs about? Love, clowns and robots. Actually, maybe I should throw that one away. I have a little more from after I was sixteen (mainly notepads with a disturbing lack of content), but my childhood exists only as a couple of worthless items in a box.

Sometimes I wonder if my chronic ennui is because I lack a clear definition of who I was, who I’ve become, and who I want to be. I look at these tiny pieces of the whole in my foot-long box, and try to remember who I was. I can’t. I can’t remember any of it. What did I like? Super Nintendo and books. Which books? I don’t remember, they’re all gone now. What did I wear? How did I speak? We didn’t have a video camera. Unless someone else managed to accidentally catch me while filming their own children, there’s no video footage or sound recording of my voice prior to 2002. Did I have any dreams? Hopes? How did I get from there to here?

Somewhere out there (I will not say where), my very first website, from 1997, is still online. There are footprints of my consciousness all over the internet, and they seem to survive time better than physical objects. Given my general confusion and desire to catalogue my journey as a human being while simultaneously discarding most of my worldly possessions, it seems the internet is doing a rather fine job of taking the preservation out of my hands. Maybe I should just stay here for good. I think we’re all headed that way anyway.

Back to cleaning.