As a younger man, I was fascinated by discoveries of ancient tombs filled with gold trinkets, chariots, terracotta armies, and ornate sarcophagus. Like Indian Jones’ nemesis quipped in the Raiders of the Lost Ark movie, bury something ordinary in the dirt for a thousand years and it becomes valuable to the finder. In my adolescent years, I found in our old New England home iron farm implements I still display. In recent times, people find cars buried in the dirt of homes being demolished, an old purse stuffed behind a bedroom wall, and even an old Burger King walled up in an abandoned shopping mall. For most of my adult life, I knew people who owned properties, purchased storage sheds and rented spaces to store stuff that did not fit in their homes.
As I get older, I am less inclined to get a bigger home to store our stuff, which is why we came to own the home we now have. The last owners, retired grandparents, after his long Navy career had accumulated things until the house was bursting, and the couple “needed” a larger place for their stuff. My spouse and I are taking the opposite approach, by parting with things that do not have real value. It’s that word, value, that complicates things for us. I was finally able to start parting with things I no longer had attachment, donating most of these and trashing the rest. However, dog toys that Dexter used and a leash that Comet was walked every day have joined our keepsakes: our youngest’s Little League team baseballs, my father’s embroidered (Japan) jacket and my Navy cruise jacket. We did move the Vladimir Kush painting to enjoy it more appropriately.
After five years, we moved it from the office to the living room. We gave away one carved Western rocking chair to a buddy moving to Arizona. Placing an early 20th Century rocker an older widow gave us, a 19th Century Bentwood rocking chair my late mother brought from New England, and an Edwardian-era vase are still being debated. For now, an 18th Century New England churn, and some things from our respective grandmothers’ time remain in closets. Other than fictional archaeologists, things we value have intrinsic worth only to the individual. My spouse would not allow – nor could I afford – to bury my trinkets with me. Or perhaps I should?
Someone will dig them up in a thousand years and maybe become another’s treasure.