Monday, April 6, 2009

Burn After Reading

I started a fire today, and burned piles of papers, evidence of years lived in this house. I am taking an inordinate amount of time going through school papers for Tara and Maya, receipts, taxes, travel documents, letters, cards, notes to myself, notes from friends and family, photographs, artwork from preschool through high school, report cards, homework assignments and more. What to keep and what to burn? I really don't want to dispose of anything, but why keep it all in bags and boxes to be explored by mice and creatures that leave parts of themselves behind? I did well for the first few boxes, but then I get bogged down and look at each piece of evidence of my past and I do not want to let go. It is sometimes fun, but gets more agonizing if I persist for too long. I wish I could just burn all of it and not filter through each page, questioning whether this or that memento stays or goes. This is taking far too much time. Eric returns home on the train form Montreal tonight and I had promised myself I would get through all of the boxes lined up in a row in the living room. Those boxes hold me hostage.

A fantastic fire raged, consuming every morsel I fed it, especially enjoying the thick handfuls of paper I threw in with abandon. Unfortunately the ashes are piling up. I have never tended to a fire, so I imagined that everything would just disappear and that I could keep adding more and more paper....I have learned that ultimately I will have to vacuum away a foot high pile of ash.

After about two hours of sifting through my paper collection, I find myself less and less attentive, and I start to throw out more and more and then I worry that I will lose something important, so I become more selective and keep too much. Finally I decide that it is time to quit and I will face this task again and again. This is all so much harder than I anticipated.

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